With a blackout from 7pm to the closing time of 9pm on Thursday and a candlelight march, Sector-17 traders continued their protest on the third day over the closure of two parking lots after the opening of a new multi-level basement parking. By the evening after a meeting with the traders where MC commissioner B Purushartha was also present, mayor Arun Sood proposed to reopen the two lots, but with a condition.
“The traders should give in writing that we can close these lots after we build another multi-level parking on another side of Sector 17,” he told HT. Not ready for now to accept that condition, the joint action committee of the traders is to meet the UT administrator’s adviser, Parimal Rai, on Friday.
Neeraj Bajaj, president of Business Promotion Council, Sector 17, said, “We will now intensify our protest. For the first time in the history of Chandigarh, we witnessed a deserted Sector 17 plaza.”
The other multi-level parking is proposed near the market entry from the Sector-18 side, diagonally opposite the one that was inaugurated this week.
It was earlier proposed to be built in public-private partnership (PPP) mode, but has been hanging fire.
‘Closure was okayed in House meeting’
On facing opposition not only from the Congress, but also from eight councillors and former MP Harmohan Dhawan of his own party, the BJP, Sood said, “I do not understand why the councillors are raising a hue and cry. In the House meeting in March, they were shown the Smart City presentation, in which it was clearly shown that both the lots will be closed.”
He added that there was no need to bring up the issue again in a House meeting. “If required, we will take it up in the finance and contract committee.”
Meanwhile, BSP councillor Jannat Jahan came to Sood’s defence: “It’s the right decision by the mayor to close the lots.” She criticised “those who are defaming Arun Sood”. “What disaster has taken place due to the closure of the parking lots that leaders of different parties are getting involved in protests?” she said.
The traders have been arguing that the new parking would make visits to the Sector-17 market, already reeling under competition from malls..even more cumbersome.