The spectre of sealing and demolition haunts Delhi all over again. The squads will be back in action from November 1. The Supreme Court-constituted Monitoring Committee, the Municipal Corporation of Delhi and the Delhi Police commissioners concerned took the decision at a meeting on Thursday.
On Friday, the central government continued its efforts to save traders from the sealing and demolition drives. The Urban Development Ministry requested the Supreme Court to modify its order restraining the government from issuing further notifications allowing residential properties to be converted into commercial ones.
On the resumption of sealing, police have been asked to make adequate security arrangements to avoid a repeat of the Seelampur incident of September 20. Four persons were killed in clashes between police and crowds protesting the sealing.
"The Monitoring Committee has ordered us to work out the modalities for the sealing operation, scheduled to start from November 1," the MCD said in a statement.
The 48,000-odd shopkeepers, whose shops stand along roads 80 feet wide or more, and who had earlier submitted affidavits to the Supreme Court swearing they would shut their shops by June 30, will be the first ones to face the sealing squads. "Illegal shops in the better off Category A and B colonies, and polluting and hazardous units will also be taken up during the sealing drive," said a senior MCD official.
In an application filed in the court, the ministry said apart from the 2,183 streets already declared eligible for mixed-land use, there were many other similar streets/areas and their "non-notification" would "result in discrepancies on the ground and might lead to a feeling of resentment". The interim application is likely to be taken up by the court next week.
The ministry requested the court to do away with the requirement of undertakings by traders to avail the benefit of the September 7 and 15 notifications. It listed the "administrative difficulties" likely to arise in the implementation of the court's September 29 order, which required the traders covered by the two notifications to file undertakings by November 10.
Stating that lakhs of shopkeepers would have to file the undertakings, the Centre said, "It would be an extremely difficult and Herculean task for all such establishments to complete the process of tendering of undertakings within such a short period".
The court had asked the beneficiaries of the two notifications to file undertakings that misuse should stop as per the directions of the court if the Delhi Laws (Special Provisions) Act 2006 was invalidated and/or the notification was quashed. The Centre submitted that if the court were to ultimately hold the notifications unconstitutional, it would automatically mean that the traders would have to relent. Therefore, the undertakings were not required.