Sealing drive in Delhi: Traders in the national capital have been protesting against ongoing sealing drives by the BJP ruled civic bodies. Yesterday, several shops in various markets in Delhi were closed as a day-long bandh was observed. The industry body has given the call for the strike. Amid the protests, a political blamegame has erupted between Arvind Kejriwal-led Aam Admi Party (AAP). The Delhi BJP has demanded that the AAP government notifies 351 roads for commercial use and accused Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal of “misleading” the traders over the ongoing sealing drive. The Congress has hit out at AAP and the BJP for the problems being faced by the traders and property owners in the national capital on account of the sealing drive and said the situation could become worse. CM Kejriwal has appealed to the Centre to bring an ordinance, if required, to protect properties of traders from getting sealed in the national capital.
The agitation held under the umbrella of the Confederation of All India Traders (CAIT) affected markets in Chandni Chowk, Sadar Bazar, Chawri Bazar, Kamla Nagar, Karol Bagh, Kashmere Gate, Khari Baoil, Naya Bazar, Bhagirath Palace, Paharganj, Rajouri Garden, among other places. In a statement, the CAIT claimed that scores of “trade associations across the city have joined ‘Delhi Trade Bandh’, and commercial activities came to a standstill”.
Civic bodies in north, south and central Delhi have been carrying out sealing drives, which started late last month with action against over 50 shops in Defence Colony Market, at the instance of a Supreme Court-appointed monitoring committee. Action is being taken against properties for non-payment of conversion charges, or for alleged violation of civic norms such as encroachments or illegal constructions.
“The traders are demanding that the Centre should protect traders from sealing by bringing an ordinance, and an amnesty scheme on building and commercial activities on ‘as is where is basis’,” CAIT Secretary General Praveen Khandelwal said. The CAIT also demanded notification of 351 roads in Delhi for commercial or mixed-land use. “The local shopping centres were given on commercial rates and now conversion charge is being demanded and sealing is conducted without giving any notice, which can’t be held justified. The entire sealing proceedings are being run in a dictatorial manner keeping aside the DMC Act, 1957,” Khandelwal claimed.
All three major parties in Delhi, the ruling AAP, Congress and the BJP, which also controls the three municipal corporations, have extended their support to the traders.