Delhi traders call for a one-day bandh, sealing drive to continue next week

Members of the panel overseeing the drive clarified that the sealing action will continue on all days including January 25, the day of the Asean summit.

delhi Updated: Jan 21, 2018 09:15 IST
Hindustan Times
Delhi news,sealing drive,sealing in delhi
On Saturday, the North Delhi Municipal Corporation officials carried out sealing drive in local markets such as Vijay Nagar, Outram Lane and Keshav Puram.(HT Photo)

Traders in the city have decided to call a one-day bandh on January 23 against the ongoing sealing drive by the municipal corporation under the supervision of a Supreme Court-appointed monitoring committee. The decision was taken during a joint meeting called by the Confederation of All India Traders (CAIT) and traders at Constitution Club on Saturday.

Praveen Khandelwal, the national secretary-general of CAIT said, “More than 400 traders from leading markets in the city were present at the meeting and decision was taken that all the markets, including local shopping complexes and wholesale and retails markets will observe a day-long bandh on Tuesday. The sealing drive is unjustified and against the provisions of the Delhi Municipal Corporation Act 1957.”

Khandelwal added, “We have constituted a 21-member team that would decide the activities to be organised during the bandh. However, we do not want to affect the spirit of the Republic Day, so everything will be planned with due care,” he said.

While the traders decided to call for the bandh, members of the monitoring committee, who are overseeing the sealing drive, clarified that the sealing action will continue in full swing on all days including January 25, the day of the Asean summit.

“Though the civic authorities are free to carry out sealing drive on alternative days depending on the availability of police force and other arrangements, it is not going to be affected by the Republic Day celebrations,” said a member who didn’t wished to be named.

While the police force from local police stations will be used, additional arrangements for paramilitary forces will be made based on the requirements for conducting sealing operation, said a Municipal Corporation official.

On Saturday, despite their offices being shut, the North Delhi Municipal Corporation officials carried out sealing drive in local markets such as Vijay Nagar, Outram Lane and Keshav Puram for misusing residential property for commercial use without paying the one-time ‘use conversion charge’.

The civic body sealed 12 units in Outram lane, three in Vijay Nagar and 12 in Keshavpuram area. On Friday night, the civic body had sealed a hotel in Karol Bagh for running commercial activity on institutional land.

“We have directed the civic officials to verify the documents of shopkeepers claiming to pay the ‘use conversion charge’ at revised rates of Rs 22,274 square metre and not to take any action against them for the time being,” said the monitoring committee member.

A majority of shopkeepers in 106 local markets have not paid the ‘use conversion charge’ for various reasons.

While some are claiming that their markets had no residential component and were fully ‘commercial’ from the beginning, there are others who are waiting for increasing of floor area ratio (FAR) from permissible 180 (80% coverage on ground, 60% on first and 40% on second floor) to 300 (100% coverage on ground, first and second floor).

“Our market was established as ‘shop market’ in the 1950s. In 1990, it was given 100% ‘commercial’ status after a notification issued by the DDA. Our question is when the market was declared fully ‘commercial’, what is the logic for demanding ‘use conversion charge’?” questioned Ajay Gupta, a trader from Sundar Nagar Market in south Delhi.

The shopowners in other local shopping complexes, such as Defence Colony, Greater Kailash II, South Extension I and Green Park extension share Gupat’s views.

To this, the monitoring committee member clarified that giving a ‘commercial’ status to any local market doesn’t mean that the traders are not required to pay the ‘use conversion charge’.

“In fact there is no such rule. Originally, these LSCs were shop-cum-residential complexes and later commercial activities started on first and second floors. We are just asking traders to pay one time ‘use conversion charge’ for converting residential properties for commercial use,” said a monitoring committee member.

3 arrested for posing as SDM

The CBI has arrested three people on the charges of demanding and accepting a bribe of Rs 1.80 lakh, allegedly on behalf of a sub-divisional magistrate (SDM) in the national capital, from a club owner to re-open his club which was sealed by the SDM of Saraswati Vihar.

The agency said in a statement that it was looking into the role of SDM in the matter. The CBI received a complaint from an owner of a club situated at a mall in Pitam Pura that three persons were asking for a bribe of Rs 3 lakh to allow his club to reopen. He also alleged that after negotiation, the amount was reduced.

“The CBI laid a trap and caught the two accused alongwith one more person while demanding and accepting a bribe of Rs 1.80 lakh from the complainant,” said the CBI in its statement.

The agency also conducted search operations at the residence of all the three accused persons, which led to the recovery of incriminating documents.

The agency has also collected relevant documents from the office of the SDM in Saraswati Vihar.

First Published: Jan 21, 2018 01:07 IST