THE SEALING drive against shops in residential areas will not begin on November 2 as earlier expected. On Wednesday night, the spokesman of the Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) said it had been instructed by the Supreme Court-constituted Monitoring Committee not to start the sealing on Thursday. Will the drive resume from Friday? The spokesman said the MCD would await further orders from the Monitoring Committee.
Earlier, in the evening, at a meeting with the Group of Union Ministers to review the law-and-order situation, the MCD and the police said it would be difficult to carry out sealing operations.
The meeting was called following the violence on the last day of the traders' bandh. Protests turned violent as traders damaged several buses and blocked traffic at many places, disrupting normal life for several hours.
Home Minister Shivraj Patil chaired the meeting attended by Commerce and Industry Minister Kamal Nath, Law Minister H.R. Bhardwaj, Urban Development Minister Jaipal Reddy and his MoS Ajay Maken, and Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit.
After the meeting, Reddy told the media that there would be no sealing on Thursday. "We will make a special mention before the Supreme Court (on Thursday) and see what happens,” he said. There was consensus among the Group of Ministers that whenever sealing is resumed, the shops of the 30,000 traders who had filed affidavits saying they would cease commercial activities in residential areas should not be targeted first.
Similarly the 10,000-odd traders whose shops are 20 square metres or less in area and are covered by the list of the 22 categories of shops and outlets spared by the Supreme Court should be left alone. Sources close to Reddy said the remaining shops could be sealed.
The Centre also moved the Supreme Court on Wednesday, seeking relief from sealing for the traders who had filed affidavits. The Urban Development Ministry requested the court to permit these traders to continue commercial activities beyond October 31, subject to their filing additional undertakings before the Monitoring Committee.