Residents' Welfare Associations (RWAs), until now staunch backers of the sealing drive, have come out in support of small traders. The groups have decided to request the Supreme Court-appointed monitoring panel overseeing the drive to provide "relief" to small and medium traders whose businesses are under threat.
On Thursday, when sealing was in full swing at Lajpat Nagar III and IV, the RWAs Joint Front called an emergency meeting of select RWAs from across the capital and passed a resolution to this effect. "We will communicate this to the monitoring panel, the government and all concerned on Monday," said VC Tandon, president of the Joint Front.
The emergency meeting had representatives of 14 RWAs, including groups from GK-I and II, South Extension, Safdarjung Enclave, Tilak Nagar and Janakpuri. "These are the areas that will be most hit by the sealing drive," Tandon said.
Explaining the resolution, he said that while commercial use of residential premises was still unacceptable, medium and small traders need to be relocated at vacant commercial plots elsewhere. "These traders, we realised, do not have deep pockets as the big fish do. Since sealing affects their livelihood, we wanted to empathise with them," he said.
Explaining the Front's request for "relief", Tandon said the small and medium traders could be relocated at Master Plan-approved commercial plots lying vacant at present. "We understand that around 16 per cent of the government's commercial plots are lying astray. Such plots could be regarded for relocation," he said.
Welcoming the move, Ramesh Khanna, vice president of Confederation of All India Traders, however, said that the definition of small and medium traders is a debatable issue. "One cannot estimate the size of the business by looking at the size of the shop. That's why we want all shops opened till December 31, 2005 to remain. Those causing too much inconvenience to residents may be relocated," he said.
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