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Sealing: Centre charts contingency plan

The Govt plans to help commercial establishments in residential areas facing closure. Your take|In pics

india Updated: Sep 23, 2006 21:30 IST

The Urban Development Ministry is working on a contingency plan that includes exploring the option of a Constitution amendment to help commercial establishments in residential areas facing closure in the national capital.

"The ministry, after filing an affidavit in the Supreme Court on Friday, is hopeful that traders in the city would get relief from the court.

"But if that doesn't happen, then a contingency plan has to be kept ready," a senior ministry official said.

The deliberations in the ministry over the last two days have been focused on the contingency plan and in case the apex court doesn't accept the appeal for providing relief, then a constitution amendment would be the only option, officials informed.

However, exercising the option of a constitution amendment won't be that easy as it would require consultation with the law and parliamentary affairs ministries.

It could be a long-drawn process and a complicated one too, an official said.

"Moreover, while providing relief to the traders, one has to take into account the concerns of resident welfare associations as well. That would mean doing a fine balancing act. The ministry officials are working to resolve this problem," the official said.

This is a complicated issue as there are several agencies involved directly or indirectly in the governance of Delhi such as the Home Ministry, the Ministry of Urban Development, the Delhi government, the Municipal Corporation of Delhi, the Delhi Development Authority and the Lieutenant Governor's office.

All these agencies or offices would have to be involved at different stages of the consultation process to find a solution acceptable to all and that itself could prove to be a time-consuming task, officials said.

In fact, ministry officials have rested all their hopes on the Supreme Court. "If we don't get relief from the court, even the contingency plan is likely to open a Pandora's box," a senior official said.

The Centre had filed an affidavit on Friday in the Supreme Court in an effort to safeguard the interests of commercial establishments that operate in residential areas in violation of building by-laws and face closure and sealing.

In the affidavit, the government defended a notification issued on September 7 "permitting mixed land use" to ensure that commercial establishments along over 2,200 roads in the Capital are not sealed.

The apex court, by an order on August 10, had partially stayed certain provisions of the Delhi Laws (Special Provisions) Act 2006 enacted by the Parliament to provide a one-year moratorium on sealing operations.

The protest by traders against the sealing drive had turned violent on Wednesday, leading to the deaths of four people and large-scale damage to property.