The meeting was chaired by Delhi lieutenant governor Anil Baijal who is also the DDA chairman. Despite the concessions, the agitating shop owners decided to continue their stir against sealing. Shops in major markets across Delhi remained closed on Friday as businessmen extended “full support” to the call for a two-day bandh by the Confederation of All India Traders (CAIT) against the recent sealing drive.
Praveen Khandelwal from CAIT said shops will stay closed on Saturday as well. “Even if any relief has been granted, the process is long drawn and till then the sealing drive will continue causing major losses. We will stick to our scheduled bandh and, so far, the support has been encouraging, be it in central Delhi or south Delhi markets,” said Khandelwal.
The changes cleared by the DDA on Friday include, increasing Floor Area Ratio ( FAR) of local shopping complexes (LSCs) from existing 180 per cent to 300 per cent, reducing conversion charge penalties from existing 10 times to two times and regularising agricultural godowns on 12-metre wide roads.
The changes as suggested by Centre on Wednesday will be notified in the next meeting scheduled after three days. “All the three proposals were passed in the meeting. Final decision will be taken after a three-day public hearing,” said Vijendra Gupta, member DDA and BJP MLA, who attended the meeting.
Held at L-G secretariat, the meeting was attended by DDA members, which include AAP and BJP MLAs in Delhi Assembly, officials from DDA and Delhi government among others.
However, representatives of market associations from Old Delhi, Greater Kailash, South Extension and Defence Colony said that the shops there would be closed. “This will cause us losses and inconvenience shoppers, especially during the weekend when the footfall is high. But this is a short term loss as we stand to lose our businesses altogether if the sealing drive continues,” said Rajdendra Sharda, the chairman of M Block market in Greater Kailash-I.
Brajesh Goel from Chamber of Trade and Industry (CTI) said in Chandni Chowk, the response to call for bandh was similar and echoed Khandelwal’s views on not going back on the proposed bandh. “We have all assembled around Town Hall and are raising slogans against the authorities concerned. We have sought measures which provide us instant relief,” said Goel.
Nearly 750 market associations and 20 industrial areas have extended support to the bandh. An exception was Nehru Place market which remained opened on Friday. CAIT estimates a combined loss of Rs. 3,600 crore to the businessmen because of trade being disrupted in the next 48 hours.
“Our market is completely authorized and has not been affected by the sealing drive which is why we stayed away from the bandh,” said Jitender Gupta, president, Nehru Place Market Association.
The on-going sealing drive by municipal corporations supervised by a SC monitored committee had assumed political contours with ruling AAP blaming BJP-ruled MCDs for harassing traders. The BJP blamed AAP for its failure to find a solution to the crisis. These development come at a time when the national capital stares at bypolls on 20 seats after the sitting MLAs were disqualified on office-of-profit charges. The case pending in the high court.
As per the Master Plan of Delhi 2021, the permissible FAR for LSCs constructed after 1962 is 180. However, the LSC shop owners were demanding that it should be increased to 300. Sealing started in Delhi on December 22 by municipal corporations on the direction of Supreme Court-appointed monitoring committee.
However, the premises which have been sealed so far will not be de-sealed until the Supreme Court steps in.
AAP MLA Somnath Bharti who is also DDA member said LG had approved all demands of AAP in the meeting.
(Source: The Hindustan Times)