Traders in New Delhi on Wednesday began a relay hunger strike to put pressure on the government to take up the issue of sealing of shops in residential areas when Parliament's winter session opens next week.
"We have started a hunger strike to ensure that the government does not sleep over this issue and forgets to raise it in Parliament. We want an answer to the promises made by them. It is time they come out with a plan to provide some help to the traders," said Ramesh Khanna, vice president of the Confederation of All India Traders (CAIT).
"We have decided that traders of different market associations would be on a 24-hour hunger strike every day. This group would be replaced by another group," he added.
The strike would continue for a week, until Parliament begins next Wednesday.
The traders are protesting outside Mahatma Gandhi's memorial Raj Ghat, in keeping with their resolve to use peaceful methods to make the government listen to them and take appropriate steps.
In a significant development, the Supreme Court on Wednesday indicated that it would grant relief to over 25,000 traders who had given an undertaking that they would stop their commercial activities in residential areas.
The central government and the Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) had filed separate petitions asking for relief for the nearly 25,000 small traders who had filed affidavits in the court.
Since Nov 8, civic authorities have sealed over 735 commercials units, including guesthouses, restaurants, playschools and even a couple of government offices. The operation resumed two days after the apex court dismissed three petitions of the MCD and central government.
The MCD on Wednesday continued the drive in Rajouri Garden, Qutub Institutional Area and the upscale Mehrauli-Gurgaon Road that is lined with furniture, apparel and sports stores.
"We can start the drive in other areas simultaneously, but these decisions would be taken during the day," said Deep Mathur, a senior official of MCD.
On Tuesday, the major properties sealed in the south zone included Satyapal Fashion Designer's Boutique Showroom, guesthouses in the Avlon Apartment and the Empire Estate Building, a prominent showroom of stone artefacts.