The municipal corporation of Patiala has decided to slap notices on illegal commercial buildings operating from residential areas in the city.
The civic body has been forced to take this action following a recent directive by the Punjab and Haryana high court.
As per a rough estimate, more than 3,200 commercial buildings in the city will face action.
"We are left with no option. The corporation is bound to implement the orders as the court has directed us to issue the notices before August 14," confirmed a senior official of the civic body.
In its orders, the court has asked the civic body to seal all commercial establishments (except in the walled city areas) in case the owners fail to shut their illegal shops.
The owners will have to submit an affidavit saying no business activity will be ever carried out from their buildings.
The court orders will be applicable on all commercial establishments, including those based in the areas approved by the Punjab Urban Development Authorities (PUDA) , the Improvement Trust, and 36 schemes of the town and country planning department in the city.
Though the civic body has decided to go ahead with the primary task of serving notices, it is yet not sure about how to go about implementing the controversial orders.
In fact, the corporation authorities were still hoping the intervention of the state government.
"The sealing drive was withdrawn in New Delhi a few years back after the government decided to change the existing policy," stated a senior functionary of the local bodies department from Chandigarh.
Meanwhile, fearing closure of their flourishing businesses, several shopkeepers on
Wednesday held a protest rally in the city.
Hundreds of owners of commercial establishments, led by the newly-constituted Patiala Beopar Bachao Sangharsh Committee, raised slogans against the Punjab government and the civic body.
Condemning the impending sealing drive, the shopkeepers sought the state government intervention to save more than 25,000 people who would be rendered jobless.
"It is a do-or-die situation for us. We are going to be ruined if they go ahead with the sealing drive," said Nirmal Das Malhotra, a shopkeeper.
Mayor Ajit Pal Singh Kohli also met the agitated shopkeepers on Wednesday. "I have asked them to maintain peace. We have to implement the court orders. But at the same time we will ensure that no genuine party gets affected," said the mayor.
Gurlavleen Singh Sidhu, commissioner of the civic body, said the body would implement the court orders and the process would start very soon.
The high court had issued its directive on the plea of a local advocate Ashok Mathur.