The sealing drive against unauthorised shops will resume on November 2.
"It was originally scheduled to start from November 1, but has been deferred by a day as it was coinciding with the final day of the 72-hour bandh by Delhi’s traders," said Deep Mathur, director (information) of the Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) on Tuesday.
On Monday, the Supreme Court-appointed Monitoring Committee had filed a report with the court, advising that the sealing drive should not be resumed on November 1. It had sought 15 more days to decide on a new date. This had raised hopes among the traders of a reprieve for at least a fortnight. Less than 24 hours later, the MCD said the committee had instructed it to begin sealing shops again from November 2.
The MCD now maintains that the single-day postponement is only because it fears there may be law-and-order problems on November 1. "On the final day of the bandh, all the traders will be out on the streets staging protests. They may attack the sealing squads," said an MCD officer.
The traders said their agitation would continue. Praveen Khandelwal, general secretary of the Confederation of All India Traders, said: "Although the traders’ bandh will officially end on Wednesday, our agitation against the sealing drive will go on. We will decide our plan of action on Wednesday evening."
Confusion, however, remains over which shops will be targeted.
The Monitoring Committee on Monday recommended to the court that the 30,000-odd traders, who filed affidavits before the Supreme Court -- giving an undertaking to close down their shops by June 30, 2006 -- and are also covered by the September 7 and 15 government notifications should be spared till January 31, 2007. The two notifications allows 2,183 streets in the capital to be 'mixed-land use' areas, where both residential and commercial establishments can be located.
On Tuesday, the MCD made a similar submission before the Supreme Court, seeking relief for traders who have filed affidavits. In an application it said a large number of shopkeepers, who have filed affidavits, were covered by the two notifications. If their shops were sealed and the court later held the notifications constitutionally valid, these would have to be de-sealed.
The Urban Development Ministry is also likely to submit a separate but similar petition in the Supreme Court on Wednesday.
A senior MCD official said there was a possibility shops in only those colonies categorised 'A' and 'B' and shops in the court's 'negative' list — like hazardous units, junk shops — would be taken up when sealing resumes.
To end the confusion, the Monitoring Committee members will meet the MCD officials on Wednesday. "The Monitoring Committee has already decided upon an action plan for the sealing drive and will brief us," the official said.
MCD officials, meanwhile, have expressed fear for their lives and demanded security during the sealing drive. On Tuesday, all zonal deputy commissioners met MCD Standing Committee Chairman JK Sharma and senior MCD officials to discuss this problem.
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