NEW DELHI: Most major markets in the city were closed today as traders downed shutters to voice their protest against the sealing drive.
A large number of traders, their family members and employees gathered at the Ramlila grounds to participate in a mega rally to mark their protest at the attack on their livelihoods, trade association leaders said.
"Thousands of traders are participating in the strike and shops are closed in all the markets of the city," said Praveen Khandelwal, general secretary of Confederation of All India Traders (CAIT).
Today's strike has been called by CAIT and the All Delhi Traders and Workers Association.
Khandelwal claimed that nearly 7 lakh business establishments and 3,000 markets in the city were affected due to the strike.
Traders of major markets, including Sadar Bazar, Lajpat Nagar, Chandni Chowk, Karol Bagh and Chawri Bazar, kept their shops closed.
The sealing drive has affected the lives of 40 lakh people, including traders, their employees and family members, Khandelwal said.
"As per an estimate, in the last three months trade in Delhi had declined by about 40 per cent due to sealing. A loss of Rs 1,800 crore worth of business has been caused due to strike today," he said.
This was the third strike called by traders, who have been agitating against the sealing drive for the last three months.
A large number of commercial establishments were sealed in the drive-by municipal corporations, acting on the instructions of a Supreme Court-appointed monitoring committee, for violating the Master Plan of Delhi.
Major political parties, including the city's ruling AAP and the opposition BJP and Congress, have demanded a moratorium on sealing.
The traders have also demanded that the Centre bring an Ordinance to end sealing and that the Delhi government pass a Bill against sealing.
The organisers of the rally claimed that nearly 50,000 people attended it.
A unanimous resolution was passed in the traders' rally, demanding the Centre and Delhi government to take measures to ensure the sealing drive is stopped.
"The central government should bring a moratorium bill on sealing in current session of Parliament. The Delhi chief minister should ensure that a Bill is passed in the Assembly's current session to stop sealing," a CAIT statement said.
The Central government should bring an amnesty scheme notifying December 31, 2017, as the cut off date and status quo should be maintained, it added.