The sealing drive against unauthorised commercial establishments in residential areas of Delhi resumed on Wednesday, 48 days after angry protests by traders had brought it to a halt.
But this time there was little resistance from the traders as teams of the Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD), acting on the Supreme Court's orders, went about sealing shops in south Delhi under heavy security cover. Twenty three properties were sealed, including the office of the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) on Africa Avenue.
Although MCD officials refused to divulge the sealing plans for Thursday, the count of locked properties is likely to rise fast because of the strict court orders. Forty-four persons, including Praveen Khandelwal, the general secretary of Confederation of All India Traders, have been arrested, and 170 detained so far as a precautionary measure.
The traders approached the Delhi High Court on Wednesday under the banner of Saraansh, an NGO, praying for a rehabilitation scheme. Saraansh has requested that the traders be given alternative plots to locate their shops on surplus land in the city. The court has issued notices to the Centre, Delhi Government and the Delhi Development Authority seeking their response.
The MCD sealing squads adopted a 'one-zone-at-a-time' approach, unlike on earlier occasions when they would fan out to all the 12 zones simultaneously. The sealing began at 10 a.m. from Kirlokri near Ashram on the Ring Road. CTC Plaza, a popular garments showroom, was the first to be sealed. Sixteen properties were sealed on the stretch from the Noida Toll Bridge to Ashram Chowk and seven on Africa Avenue Road.