Sealing drive: DDA clears changes to save traders (Roundup)

New Delhi, Feb 2 : The Delhi Development Authority (DDA) on Friday approved changes to the city's Master Plan -- in a move to provide relief to traders hit by the sealing drive -- on a day lakhs of traders pulled down their shutters to protest against the ongoing measure.

The sealing drive is being carried out against business establishments using residential areas for commercial purposes without paying conversion charges.

Praveen Khandelwal, National Secretary General, Confederation of All India Traders (CAIT), which announced the 48-hour 'Delhi Trade Bandh' from Friday, told IANS that around seven lakh businesses across Delhi remained closed on Friday.

He said that they would continue with the strike on Saturday and urged the Central government to reopen the sealed business establishments.

DDA's proposed amendments to the Master Plan include increasing Floor Area Ratio (FAR) of local shopping complexes (LSCs) from existing 180 per cent to 300 per cent and regularising agricultural godowns on 12 metre wide roads.

Also, there will be a reduction in conversion charge penalties from existing 10 times to two times and commercial activity in the basements will be allowed in all commercial areas "subject to payment of requisite charges without any discrimination".

The decision was taken at a meeting chaired by Lt Governor Anil Baijal, who is chairman of the DDA.

"The board has approved these changes.

They will now be put in the public domain for three days and a meeting will be called after that," DDA member and BJP legislator Vijender Gupta told IANS.

The changes are expected to be notified as amendments to the Master Plan after the next meeting.

Meanwhile, both the Aam Aadmi Party and the Bharatiya Janata Party took credit for the proposed amendments.

DDA member and AAP MLA Somnath Bharti, addressing party supporters, said the changes happened due to Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal's "struggle".


Sharma, who is also a DDA member, termed the changes to the Master Plan a "historic decision by the Central government" and alleged Kejriwal was misleading traders on the sealing drive.

The AAP and BJP have locked horns over the drive with both parties blaming each other.

The issue of sealing drive echoed in the Rajya Sabha on Friday, causing disruptions.

AAP MPs trooped near the Chairman's podium under party leader Sanjay Singh's leadership and raised slogans against the drive.

Leader of Opposition Ghulam Nabi Azad said: "Delhi is second home for every MP. So it is our duty to help them. The Union government can't be a mere spectator. They should give answers."

Addressing media later, Sanjay Singh condemned the BJP MPs from Delhi for staying "mum" when he along with other AAP MPs -- Sushil Gupta and N.D.

Gupta -- raised the issue of sealing in the Upper House.

"Can't the BJP bring a bill in the parliament against sealing and conversion charges?" he questioned.



Source: IANS