BACKED BY Congress councillor Pradeep Chhabra and the BJP’s Harmohan Dhawan, the traders of Sector 17 on Tuesday turned the heat on the Chandigarh Municipal Corporation over two parking lots in Sector 17 — Sahib Singh and Empire Store — that were closed after the inauguration of multilevel parking.
The traders decided to close shops from 9 am to 1 pm and sit on dharna outside the gate of MC in Sector 17 on Wednesday. Agitated over the decision to close both the parkings for facilitating functioning of the multilevel parking, the traders announced that they would not allow official cars of mayor, commissioner, joint commissioner and other officials to enter the MC building, and they would have to park their vehicles in the multilevel parking and walk to office.
THE traders on Tuesday protested outside the MC office and demanded that the corporation should review its decision. The protesting traders were called by Mayor Arun Sood to his office to resolve the issue.
Dhawan and Congress councillor Pradeep Chhabra, who were accompanying the traders, had heated confrontation with the mayor over the issue. Unhappy with the response of the mayor, Chhabra left the meeting in a huff. Chhabra said: “BJP took the decision without taking the traders into confidence.”
The fight intensified as Dhawan, a senior BJP leader, criticised the closure of surface parking. He stated, “Being a trader myself, I consider this highly unjust on the MC’s part to sideline the traders to such an extent. I believe that the place to park cars should be left to the discretion of the customer.”
Sood maintained silence during the meeting and accused the traders of showing him in a negative light. He said, “I am not the only one who approved the closing down of the parking lots. The entire MC and UT Administration stand responsible for this decision. This has been an essential requisite [for the city] to be categorised as a smart city. We are ready to review the closing at Finance and Contract Committee meeting to be held on May 16 in case any need arises.” He urged the traders to be cooperative and become accustomed to the new situation for a few months.
The closure of the two parking lots led to overcrowding of other parking lots. Cars and scooters were crammed at the back entry.
Tanvi, a resident of Sector 40, said, “I had work at the Plaza for barely 5 minutes. It is really inconvenient in such a case to go to the multilevel parking and walk 500 metres.”
The authorities at the multilevel parking said that the new parking would take time to catch up as many people were still not aware of it. “The basic issues of entry and exit will soon be solved over time, once people become accustomed to the system.”
Further course of action
All five associations of Sector 17 have formed Joint Action Committee with over 400 traders as members. Neeraj Bajaj, executive member of JAC, said, “The committee is formed for the common cause of protest against the authorities and for proper implementation of strategies. The first step includes a dharna at 9 am tomorrow, followed by a complete bandh in the sector till 1 pm.”