Major markets deserted on first day of traders’ strike in Delhi
To oppose the ongoing sealing drive by the Municipal Corporations, several traders’ associations had called for a strike on February 2, 3 and 4.delhi Updated: Feb 03, 2018 00:09 IST
Most of the markets felt the impact of the bandh in the city on Friday as shopkeepers either kept their shutters down or started transaction late in the evening.
To oppose the ongoing sealing drive by the Municipal Corporations, several traders’ associations had called for a strike on February 2, 3 and 4.
On the first day of the strike, except for eateries, restaurants and chemists, other shops remained shut in markets such as Defence Colony, GK I (M and N block), GK II (M block), South Extension, Green Park, Hauz Khas, Chandni Chowk, Karol Bagh, Kashmiri Gate, Kamla Nagar, Khan Market and Laxmi Nagar.
The shoppers who came to these markets ended up having to return empty handed.
“I visited Greater Kailash I, M-Block market to buy dresses for a family function, but I found all the shops closed today. I don’t know when I will get the time to come to the market again,” said Rashi Agarwal who came from Gurgaon.
Traders claimed the strike resulted in losses for them amounting to nearly ₹1,800 crore, along with a ₹150-crore loss for the government (in the form of taxes). The Confederation of All India Traders (CAIT), which issued the call for a two-day strike (February 2-3), demanded immediate relief from sealing else it will take the matter in the Supreme Court.
“We welcome the Centre’s and Delhi Development Authority move to increase the floor area ratio, reduce conversion charges and allow commercial activities in basements. But the implementation of these proposals will take 10-12 days and till that time the monitoring committee will continue its sealing,” said Praveen Khandelwal, secretary-general, CAIT.
“To save traders, we want the Centre to take immediate measures to stop sealing, de-sealing of shops targeted in last one month, bringing amnesty scheme to regularise construction till 2017, notifying 351 roads and taking no ‘use conversion charge’ from local markets,” said Khandelwal.
According to CAIT, the first day of the shutdown affected the lives of two million people, who couldn’t work. “And if the situation (sealing drives) continues, then it will hurt both the traders and the governments,” said Vipin Ahuja, trader from Ashok Vihar and member of CAIT.
He said over 2,500 markets across Delhi have agreed to join the 48-hour strike. Traders’ associations are likely to hold another meeting in two days to decide the next course of action against the ongoing sealing drive.
The sealing drive started in Delhi from December 22, with Supreme Court-appointed monitoring committee taking action against commercial establishments for non-payment of ‘use conversion charge’, misuse of properties, and illegal constructions.
Brijesh Goel from the Chamber of Trade and Industry (CTI) said in Chandni Chowk, the response to call for bandh was similar.
“We assembled near Town Hall and raised slogans against the authorities. Nearly 750 market associations and 20 industrial areas have extended support to the CTI’s bandh for three days,” he said.
Markets not observing the bandh
Traders at markets in Sarojini Nagar, Nehru Place, Lajpat Nagar, Defence Colony flyover and Khari Baoli did not participate in the strike. “Our market is totally commercial and established by the Delhi Development Authority in 1970s. There is no violation of building norms so we decided to keep it open on both the days,” said Harvinder Singh, member of Defence Colony flyover market association. Traders association of Sarojini Nagar said that they support the bandh but shutting down the markets is not a solution.
Meanwhile, the sealing drive continued in certain parts of the city as six shops were sealed in Gulabi Bagh area on direction of monitoring committee for misuse of properties. In east Delhi, seven dying units, running in residential areas, were sealed during a regular drive.