All Delhi Traders Vyapari and Workers Associaltion on Wednesday set a week's deadline to the central government to solve the crisis caused by the sealing drive ordered by the the Supreme Court-appointed Monitoring Committee. The trade body issued the deadline at a mega rally held by it at Ramlila Maidan to demand de-sealing of trade establishments across locations in the national capital.
The traders association also called a massive bandh due to which major markets in Delhi remain closed on Wednesday while thousands of agitating traders and workers thronged at the held the rally to vent their discontent over the sealing drive.
Nearly three thousand establishments across various market places in Delhi, including Chandni Chowk, Connaught Place, Karol Bagh, South Extension, Rajouri Garden, Chawri Bazar, Lajpat Nagar and Laxmi Nagar, remained closed on Wednesday.
Praveen Khandelwal, a leader of the traders body said that the agitating trade bodies will decide their next move only after the Centre's deadline ends.
Addressing the rally, Khandelwal said, "For the last few months we have been harassed in the name of the sealing drive. Hundreds of establishments have been forced to shut down, rendering thousands jobless. We were not even given a chance to clear our positions. Can this be a policy at all."
This is the third strike called by traders, who have been agitating against the sealing drive for the last three months.
In December last year the Supreme Court of India revived the monitoring committee for illegal buildings and ordered it to seal establishment that are built in violation of the Master plan of Delhi. Subsequently, the sealing drive that began on 17 December immediately attracted massive public ire as it resulted in closure of scores of commercial establishments.
The traders have been demanding de-sealing of their establishments and amendment in the Master Plan of Delhi to legalise the deviations from the existing norms, but to no avail.
A trader from Karol Bagh whose mobile showroom has been closed because of the sealing drive told Firstpost, "If our market is illegal as per law, than the sealing should have been started after giving us another venue to continue our business. But that too was not done and we were forced to vacate our business establishments without any alternative arrangement for us to earn a living."
Lamenting the hardships faced by Delhi traders, Khandelwal said that trade in Delhi has faced major slump dafter the sealing drive was initiated.
"It is not only the sealing drive the traders have been subjected to, but also Goods and Services Tax, which has led to dip in Delhi's trade volume. If no measure is taken to solve the crisis of the traders, then the Delhi government would lose huge chunk of the revenue it receives as taxes," he said.
And this is notwithstanding the woes of the thousands of people employed at these commercial establishments. Khandelwal claimed that the sealing drive has directly affected the lives of 40 lakh people, including traders, their employees and family members
Sumit Agarwal, owner of a tiles showroom in Chattapur whose shop has been closed because of the sealing drive told Firstpost, "There were 80 shops in total in Chattarpur which were closed because of the sealing drive. Nearly 5,000 people were employed directly or indirectly in these shops, but after the sealing all of them have become jobless."
He also added that the laborers who were engaged in the shops were mostly from Bihar and Uttar Pradesh and all of them were now forced to return to their villages. Ajeet Kumar who worked in a cloth store in Amar Colony said that nearly 3,000 people have become jobless.
"There were all kinds of shop in Amar Colony and nearly 500 hundred of them have been sealed. Now we are all jobless," he said.
The traders have demanded that the Centre bring an Ordinance to end sealing. They have also demanded that the Delhi government pass a bill against sealing.
"The Centre should pass a bill to stop sealing of buildings. The Delhi Assembly should pass the bill and send it to central government and a general amnesty should be given to all buildings taking 31st December 2017 as the cut-off date," Khandelwal demanded.
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Updated Date: Mar 28, 2018 20:12:16 IST