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Only SC can stop sealing drive, says Monitoring Committee

NEW DELHI: The sealing drive in Delhi will continue as decided by the Supreme Court-appointed monitoring committee and the Supreme Court is the only authority to stop this drive and not the Committee, members of the asserted on Thursday.
Explaining the situation, the members clarified that the Committee has no right to stop the drive. "Our duty was to determine the factors and procedure of the sealing as directed by the Supreme Court," said the members.
Earlier, an all-party meeting attended by the leaders of BJP and Congress with Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and members of the Monitoring Committee was held.
In the meeting, the political parties urged the Committee to stop the sealing drive till the Supreme Court's verdict comes.
The Supreme Court-appointed Committee comprises KJ Rao, former advisor to the Election Commission, Bhure Lal, chairman of Environment Pollution Prevention and Control Authority (EPCA) and Major General (retd) Som Jhingan as members.
"The Monitoring Committee is confident that if the rightful dues from the public on various accounts — including conversion charges — are collected by the MCD, the financial state of these corporations would be more sound and would overcome the present crisis," said a member.
The drive began in December last year after the apex court ordered the sealing of commercial establishments over encroachment, illegal constructions and non-payment of conversion charges.
The drive is being carried out by the three Municipal Corporations under supervision of the Monitoring Committee.
The root of the problem is poor planning and execution of the Delhi Master Plan 2021. The Master Plan is the document that decides how Delhi should be developed and is prepared for 20 years.
The blueprint, created in 1982, was revised and notified in 2007 as Master Plan 2021. In this period, the population of Delhi, thanks to large-scale migration the Capital witnesses, had grown exponentially, and shops and commercial establishments had mushroomed across the city.
In 2005-06, the Delhi High Court ordered a sealing drive against shops that flouted the law, and the ensuing protests saw four people being killed.
The government then brought in trader-friendly amendments in 2007, which included bringing down the conversion charges and allowing buildings to grow taller.
The Supreme Court, however, struck down the amendments in view of their potentially harmful effects on the environment, and the lack of supporting infrastructure – traffic, parking, civic amenities, et al.
The current sealing drive, too, has been ordered by the Supreme Court.
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