Even as the sealing drive against illegal constructions has caused furore among the Delhiites, the East Delhi Municipal Corporation has recently demolished more than 300 shops allegedly encroaching the road at Vijay Chowk Path in Laxmi Nagar, leaving more than 2,000 people jobless.
The drive that has resulted in small businesses shutting down on Vijay Chowk Path, one of the old markets in Delhi, comes at a time when Prime Minister Narendra Modi himself cited trades as small as the sale of pakodas as examples of job creation.
“The move to demolish our shops without any notice was a move that goes against the very interest of small businesses. The prime minister himself has pointed out small businesses as job creators. The EDMC’s move to demolish them was just against the vision of the prime minister,” said a trader unwilling to disclose his name.
The Vijay Chowk Path, otherwise a bustling business centre, now looks like an array of ruins. Out of more than 300 shops, many lost all the floors that were protruding towards the roadside.
“After the eviction drive started on 11 May, customers stopped stepping into the area. We are now busy re-building the destroyed shops,” said Anil Garg, a trader in the area.
Traders say that they were not given enough time to shift their goods in the shops, as a result of which they incurred losses due to damaged goods. Many of the shops traded in apparel, groceries and stationery goods, which now stand closed.
The drive began on 11 May and has been continuing intermittently since then, said Garg.
“On 9th of May, the Deputy Commissioner of East Delhi Municipal Corporation came and told us that our shops are encroaching upon public road illegally. Without giving us time, the EDMC began with demolition on 11th of May using excavators,” he adds.
Significantly, it is a rule to serve notice to owners of illegal buildings prior to a demolition drive and give them the opportunity to prove that their buildings are not built illegally, but sources in the EDMC say that it is not required to do the same if the encroachment is on public utilities.
“We do not serve notice to people who encroach upon public roads,” said Santosh Kumar, ward councillor of the area.
The traders say that the EDMC could have given them the opportunity to demolish the illegal part of their buildings by themselves.
“That would have contained the losses to some extent. Since the EDMC itself demolished haphazardly by using excavators, the buildings got heavily damaged even in the parts which were legally constructed with due permission,” said Arun Bhati, another trader.
He also said that every shop employed 6 to 7 persons per head and the count of people who lost jobs due to the demolition would be more than 2,000.
But Kumar said that the demolition drive has not yet ended and there are still more shops to be demolished.
“We have only demolished half of the shops those have been built illegally. The drive to demolish the remaining half would start soon,” he said.
He declined to divulge when the next drive will start and how many buildings would be demolished in the next round. The fear of demolition has kept the traders anxious.
“Today is the month of Ramzan and we have Eid after it. But we don’t know how to celebrate the festival when our income sources are destroyed,” said Phiroze Khan, a trader in the area. Traders also said that they would have to bear huge expenditure in reconstructing the market as it has been severely damaged by the drive.
Updated Date: May 25, 2018 21:17 PM