Thousands of shops shut as traders strike against sealing in Delhi markets
The impact of the strike could be seen across all major markets in Delhi like South Extension, Defence Colony, Connaught Place, Karol Bagh, Rajouri Garden, Khan Market, Chandni Chowk and Kamla NagarUpdated: Jan 23, 2018 23:14 IST
Thousands of shops across Delhi were shut on Tuesday as part of a traders’ strike against the ongoing sealing drive in city by the municipal corporations on the direction of a Supreme Court-appointed monitoring committee.
The impact of the strike could be seen across all major markets in Delhi like South Extension, Defence Colony, Connaught Place, Karol Bagh, Rajouri Garden, Khan Market, Chandni Chowk and Kamla Nagar. Shoppers who had come to these markets ended up having to return empty handed as they were caught unaware about the strike. In several markets, these shoppers were seen stranded in the early afternoon drizzle as they did not even have open shops to take shelter in. However, some markets in east Delhi were seen functioning normally in the evening.
Traders claimed the strike resulted in losses for them amounting to nearly ₹1,500 crore, along with a ₹125-crore loss for the government (in the form of taxes). The Confederation of All India Traders (CAIT), which issued the call for the strike, warned it would protest again if no concrete measures are taken by the Centre by next week.
“Just one day (of the bandh) has affected lives of 20 lakh people, who couldn’t work. And if the situation (sealing drives) continues, then it will hurt both the traders and the governments,” said Praveen Khandelwal, secretary-general, CAIT.
According to Khandelwal, over 2,000 traders’ associations had shut their outlets in markets across Delhi. 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 and recently revived monitoring committee taking action against commercial establishments for non-payment of ‘use conversion charge’ and for the alleged violation of civic norms such as misuse of properties, and illegal constructions.
Traders also held protest march at South Extension, Chowk Hauz Qazi, Kamla Nagar, Rajouri Garden and Krishna Nagar markets.
In South Extension I, the jewellery shops, branded outlets and garments shops remained closed. However, in all markets, few chemist shops, eateries and food outlets were seen functioning.
Besides prominent markets, wholesale and commercial markets such as Chandni Chowk, Sadar Bazar, Chawri Bazar, Kamla Nagar, Karol Bagh, Kashmere Gate, Khari Baoil, Naya Bazar, Bhagirath Palace, Paharganj, Rajouri Garden, remained shut and wore a deserted look as well. Earlier in the day, many areas were also closed due to the Republic Day full-dress rehearsal.
In west Delhi’s Rajouri Garden too, the streets were desolate. However, some shopkeepers had opened the shutters of their shops half-way, ready to pull them down if traders association arrived.
Similarly, commercial activity had come to a standstill in Karol Bagh market. “Street vendors too refrained from selling their stock. Customers who had come to the market hoping to do some shopping had to return empty-handed or run for cover in front of closed shops due to rain,” said Manoj Gupta, who visited the market with his family on Tuesday morning.
At Khan Market, however, traders observed a partial bandh as the shops and restaurants started operation from 2pm. “We shut our establishments till 2pm as a show of solidarity against the high handedness and sealing without application of mind,” said Anshu Tandon, president of Khan Market Restaurants Association.
Vikram Badhwar, secretary of New Delhi Traders Association, said even Connaught Place, which is a commercial area, is under the SC-appointed monitoring committee’s scanner.
“They have written to the New Delhi Municipal Council regarding CP, too. Council’s officials have been on recce to check basements and roofs. How can they (monitoring committee) exploit traders like this? They think they are above law. We protest this unjustified action on shops and restaurants across the city,” Badhwar said.
At CP, most restaurants and shops were shut for the day. Many shoppers appeared clueless regarding the reason behind the closed shops. “I came with my friends to get a suit stitched. However, I was not aware of this strike. Now I have to come back again later,” said Rajesh Jain, a 30-year-old Dilshad Garden resident.
First Published: Jan 23, 2018 23:14 IST