The sealing of commercial establishments in residential areas has been postponed yet again - this time until Monday, November 6. The decision was taken at a meeting of the Group of Ministers (GoM) on Thursday evening.
The GoM took the decision after the Supreme Court issued a directive to resume the sealing drive, and the Monitoring Committee asked the Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) to start sealing operations from Friday.
At the meeting of the GoM, the MCD and Delhi Police officials said restarting the drive would not be possible on Friday as the situation in the Capital was still tense.
After the meeting chaired by Home Minister Shivraj Patil, Urban Development Minister S Jaipal Reddy said, "The MCD and Delhi Police have informed us that it would be difficult to carry out sealing operations at present. Our aim is to follow the Supreme Court's orders but the court has to be apprised of the ground realities."
Reddy said the MCD would approach the court on Friday and apprise it of the difficulties on the ground in carrying out sealing in the present situation.
"Though the Monitoring Committee asked the MCD to go ahead with sealing, MCD officials told the GoM that sealing squads would not go out on to the streets without adequate police protection," said an MCD official.
"Police officers in turn pleaded that the law-and-order situation was still tense and personnel would have to be diverted for security during the Guru Purab festivities over the weekend."
Since the MCD officials did not want to be pulled up for contempt of court by not carrying on with the sealing drive, they have already written to the Monitoring Committee, explaining why the civic body could not implement the court orders.
The letter said, "It is not our intention to disobey court directive this time. However, special circumstances have arisen in the city with respect to the drive that make it impossible for us to go ahead with the drive." The MCD will also list out before the Supreme Court its experiences during earlier rounds of the sealing drive.
Praveen Khandelwal, general secretary of the Confederation of All India Traders, said traders would protest again if sealing was resumed. "From Friday, we will resume agitation and hold rallies."