"Aapke sealing aaj khul sakti hai basharte aap ye prayaas karein, ye prayatna karein ki isko (shops) aavasiya taur par niyamit kara diya jaaye” -- VK Singh, minister of state for external affairs.
Agitating traders of Ghaziabad have been left even more confused by the address of Ghaziabad MP VK Singh, also the minister of state for external affairs, at a programme organised by Indirapuram Vyapar Mandal on Thursday afternoon.
Addressing the traders, Singh said: “Sealing from your shops could be removed on the condition that you make efforts to 'regularise' your shops for residential purposes.” He added, “We will review your efforts after six months, we are not in hurry."
Singh was attending an event organised to address the contentious issue of sealing of 41 shops by Ghaziabad Development Authority (GDA) within a span of two months in Indirapuram.
Additionally, over 250 shops have been served notices for further sealing.
Singh's contradictory statements have generated controversy among both the residents and a section of disgruntled traders led by Vyapari Ekta Samiti. With general elections barely months away, his uncertain words — that spoke of opening of shut shops, with conditions — were seen as efforts to appease the core vote bank of the BJP — the traders.
"Traders are an aggrieved lot under this regime, with back-to-back impact demonetization, hasty implementation of GST, and now sealing. Allowing them to reopen the shops is an attempt to appease them in view of the upcoming elections," said a source within local BJP unit.
He continued, “Also, I don't see any point in making such promises that are legally not feasible,” and added with some flourish, “The general came and confused everyone present in the event with the statement.”
Pradeep Gupta, president of Vyapari Ekta Samiti, who organised a bandh today to protest against the GDA sealing, also criticised Singh's statement. "His statement clearly says that he doesn't want to act on the issue but only want to kill time till upcoming elections," he added.
Meanwhile, Alok Kumar, president of FedAOA, was no less taken aback at the words of Singh. "This is against the law and also contempt of high court. How could a lawmaker disregard law itself," he noted.
When City Spidey reached out to the GDA to know their reaction to Singh's statement, here’s what the chief of Indirapuram area, RP Singh, said: “It's impossible to run a commercial entity even after ‘regularising’ the sealed shops in residential units. All these shops were originally built for residential purposes in the masterplan of Ghaziabad, and even Supreme Court could not alter that fact."
"Also, they are already a residential identity so what's the point of regularising them," he added.
The matter, he continued, now rested in the hands of GDA VC and Singh.
The event also saw presence of councillors of Indirapuram and Vice Chairperson of GDA, Kanchan Verma.
Looking visibly displeased, Verma refused to speak or comment on the matter when City Spidey reached out to her.
But despite all confusion, traders affiliated to Vyapar Mandal seemed hopeful. "He will deliver on his promise and the sealings of 41 shops will be over," said Ombeer Yadav, president of Vyapar Mandal.