Delhi traders go on 2-day bandh to protest ongoing sealing drive; Connaught Place, Chandni Chowk to stay shut

Traders and businessmen in New Delhi have decided to observe a trade bandh for two days, on Friday and Saturday, to protest the ongoing sealing drive in the National Capital.

The bandh, called by Confederation of All India Traders (CAIT), will affect markets in Connaught Place, Chandni Chowk, Karol Bagh, Kamla Nagar, Khan Market, South Extension, Greater Kailash, Lajpat Nagar, Defence Colony, Green Park, Rajouri Garden and Tilak Nagar which will remain closed, reported The Indian Express.

CAIT, which boasts the support of nearly 2,000 traders, decided to call a bandh, despite the Centre's decision to amend the Delhi Master Plan (DMP) 2021. Speaking to Hindustan TimesPraveen Khandelwal, national secretary-general of CAIT, said: "To lodge a strong protest against the arbitrary sealing of commercial establishments in Delhi, the CAIT has called for a complete shutdown in which more than seven lakh business establishments and 2,500 markets will participate." He added that no commercial activity will take place in the aforementioned places.

A file image of Khan Market in Delhi. PTI

File image of Khan Market in Delhi. PTI

CAIT will take out a protest march and hold 'dharna' in their respective markets. "Prior to this, the traders will 'gherao' Delhi MPs and MLAs and will submit their memorandum," the industry body had said earlier in a statement. The statement also said that memoranda would also be given to prominent leaders of all political parties.

Hindustan Times report stated that on Saturday, around 100 traders from all across India will march from Red Fort to Town Hall in Chandni Chowk. The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP)-backed Chamber of Trade and Industry (CTI) will also hold a protest march from Kashmere Gate to Old Hindu College on Friday, according to the report.

CTI convenor Brijesh Goel said that 750 market associations have supported the bandh, reported The Hindu. "There is a lot of anger among the traders against the attitude of the municipal officials on sealing. Traders have decided that the authorities will not be affected by a day or two of closure, and it has to be long enough for some action to be initiated in our favour," The Hindu quoted Goel as saying.

This move comes a few days after the industry body observed a day-long 'Delhi trade bandh' on 23 January against the ongoing sealing of business establishments in the national capital. The shutdown decision was taken at a meeting of Delhi traders held at the Constitution Club in the national capital, which was attended by leaders of about 500 trade associations of the city.

On 31 January, Union Housing and Urban Affairs Minister Hardeep Singh Puri had said the Delhi Development Authority (DDA) was in the process of amending the Delhi Master Plan 2021 to provide relief to the traders from the ongoing sealing drive.

He said the ministry has proposed certain amendments to the master plan which would be taken up by the DDA in its meeting on Friday. "We are actually going to address the Master Plan... It will need amendment and we are in the process of amending the Master Plan with a view to resolving the issues," Puri had told reporters in New Delhi, according to PTI.

Municipal corporations in Delhi have undertaken the sealing drive initiated by a Supreme Court-appointed monitoring committee (set up in 2006). Commercial premises have been sealed for failing to deposit conversion charges according to provisions in Master Plan 2021. In 2012, the apex court asked the committee to stop the drive. But in December 2017, it ordered its resumption.

Congress demands Supreme Court halt dealing drive

Delhi Congress chief Ajay Maken on Thursday made a presentation before the Supreme Court-appointed monitoring committee, raising the demand for halting the ongoing sealing of illegal commercial establishments in the city.

Maken said the sealing drive was "illegal" and quoted the law and the Delhi Master Plan 2021 to support his claim. "We are hopeful that no sealing in Special Areas and Village Abadi areas of Delhi will take place," he said after the meeting with the monitoring committee members.

Maken said additional floor area-ratio and basements should be allowed to be used for commercial purposes in "local shopping centres", without the owners having to pay conversion charges because there was provision in the law for it.

He claimed that sealing can not happen in markets that existed before 1962, including Chandni Chowk, Paharganj, Shahdara Town and Sadar Bazar, because the law permits them to use their premises for commercial use without any documentary proof.

With inputs from agencies

Updated Date: Feb 02, 2018 10:32 AM

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