Traders' associations in the city welcomed the SC's decision on Thursday to give relief to 18,305 traders who willingly closed down their shops, but at the same time sought a permanent solution to the sealing row.
A delegation of traders called on Union Minister Jaipal Reddy seeking relief for an estimated 5.5 lakh traders who can face MCD sealing squads any time. "There is no relief for traders in Category A and B colonies. Why is the government discriminating against this section of shopkeepers? Do traders in posh colonies not have a right to earn livelihood?" asked Neelam Saxena, a shopkeeper at Greater Kailash-I market.
Also there is no relief for lakhs of traders on roads that have not been notified as commercial stretches. "There are around 7 lakh business establishments in residential areas. The 2,183 roads that have been notified as commercial stretches cover only 2 lakh shops that have been provided interim relief till January 31, 2007. Of this too, there is no relief for around 1 lakh shops as they are located in the basements or are located on the upper floor of buildings situated on roads where only mixed land-use has been allowed," said Praveen Khandelwal, secretary general, Confederation of All India Traders.
The interim relief to the 16,463 'law-abiding' shopkeepers has kindled a ray of hope among traders who feel that the Supreme Court in its final verdict on the validity of the twin September notifications would take a humanitarian view of the problem. "The court has finally realised that the traders were being made scapegoats in the power tussle between the Parliament and the judiciary. We are hopeful that the court would uphold the amendments to Master Plan 2001," said Narendra Madan of Kashmere Gate Automotive Parts Merchants Association.
Ram Lal, president of Karol Bagh Traders Federation, sought a permanent solution. "The Supreme Court's Thursday's order gives us no cause for cheer. It is like putting a kidney patient on dialysis. The big question is 'What will happen on January 31, 2007?' Although the government has assured us that they would notify Master Plan 2021 (which is being touted as the only permanent solution to the sealing drive) by then, it seems unlikely," said Lal.
CAIT issued a statement alleging that the government was making hollow claims on providing relief to traders.
Email Vibha Sharma: vibha @hindustantimes.com