NEW DELHI: The row over an ongoing sealing drive in the city rocked the Delhi Assembly today with AAP and BJP MLAs trading barbs and indulging in sloganeering, leading to four adjournments in two hours and the marshalling out of two opposition legislators.
The AAP MLAs rushed to the well of the House as soon as the proceedings began, demanding a discussion on the ongoing drive against properties that allegedly violate municipal norms.
The BJP MLAs, led by the leader of the opposition Vijender Gupta, went on a counter-offensive, raking up the issue of the land use status of 351 roads, which has affected traders in many areas.
The ensuing fracas brought the House to a halt. Speaker Ram Niwas Goel adjourned the proceedings thrice for 15 minutes each and for 30 minutes from 3.45 pm for the fourth time.
When the House reconvened at 4.15 pm, Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia rose to speak on the issue. However, Gupta and another BJP MLA Manjinder Singh Sirsa insisted on a debate on the topic of roads, prompting Goel to order that they be escorted out by a marshal.
The issue of the status of 351 roads has been pending since 2007.
If these roads are notified for mixed land use, commercial activities will be legal, which will effectively shield traders operating on these stretches from sealing.
Sisodia said the BJP's intent behind the sealing drive, which began on December 22 at the tony Defence Colony Market, was to "extort money" and blamed the party for the inordinate delay in notifying the roads for mixed land use.
"The BJP is running away from a discussion because they have cheated the traders. They are extorting money through the sealing drives," Sisodia said.
Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal was not present in the House.
Meanwhile, AAP workers and traders affiliated to the party took out a march against the sealing drive from its headquarters in central Delhi at around 1 pm.
The sealing drive, which started last month, has been undertaken by the BJP-controlled civic bodies on the instruction of a Supreme Court-appointed monitoring committee.
More than 50 commercial units in the Defence Colony Market were sealed for allegedly not depositing conversion charges under provisions of the city's Master Plan 2021.
Subsequently, besides South Delhi Municipal Corporation (SDMC), the north Delhi corporation and the New Delhi Municipal Council also sealed several properties in areas falling under their jurisdictions.
The action is also being taken against commercial properties for encroachments or illegal constructions.