NEW DELHI: Traders of Amar Colony and Lajpat Nagar in south Delhi took out a rally of about 250 cars on a 3-4 km route from their market to Lodhi Road on Saturday for protesting the sealing drive by the MCDs in the city.
All of the cars had posters reading ‘Hon’ble PM Modi, please save us. De-seal our shops.’ Several of these traders got down at a few places to raise slogans as well during their rally.
“I have suffered a paralytic attack since then. It’s been over 10 months that our shops were sealed and we are selling our wares on the footpath outside our closed shops. I have the responsibility of my widowed mother and an aunt on my shoulder. What does the government think? How will I run my household?” asked Mandeep Singh Kohli, general secretary of the Ladies Suit Market, Amar Colony.
Over 300 shops were shut down by the civic officials in Amar Colony, one of the many prominent markets to face sealing action in the national capital, in March last year.
Another shopkeeper Arun Bedi had a similar story. “My father is a 90-year-old retired from the Railways. He has issues with memory now. So every three days he forgets why and how my shop was sealed. Every three days he asks me, ‘Why is your shop shut? Why are you sitting idle outside it?’ Imagine how hurtful it is for a senior citizen to see his son in this condition,” Bedi said.
Directed by a Supreme Court-mandated monitoring committee, which is headed by ex-bureaucrats Bhure Lal, KJ Rao and Som Jhingan, the three municipalities of the national capital have shut down over 1,000 shops since the last week of December, 2017, so far.
The shops include all floors above the ground floor, plus those allegedly operating illegally from basements. The targeted markets include Khan Market, Meherchand Market, Vasant Kunj, Karol Bagh, Rohini, Mayur Vihar among others.
The row is over shopkeepers requiring to pay `22,274 per sq m as ‘conversion charges’ for carrying out commercial activity in residential areas. Many of these shops are traffic, law and order, fire, earthquake and environmental hazards, MCD officials and experts had told the apex court in 2017, prompting it to order the sealing drive.
Shopkeepers, however, contend that the municipalities are “wrongfully extracting” money from them. These agitating shopkeepers are upset with the BJP for their misfortune.
South Delhi worst hit by sealing drive
Markets in south Delhi have borne the maximum brunt of the drive. Khan Market, Greater Kailash-I, Amar Colony markets which have seen traders tussle with police and civic officials when they came out for sealing their shops.