Congress is politicising issue, says CMC president; shopkeepers get time till Saturday

The move of the Udupi City Municipal Council (CMC) to demolish 10 petty shops to construct a bus bay at Eshwar Nagar ran into hot water after a protest by the Congress leaders in Manipal on Thursday.

However, the matter got resolved after the talks between the Congress leaders and the CMC President Kiran Kumar.

Earlier, the CMC had sent a team led by its environment officer to demolish the petty shops at around 9 a.m. They even demolished a portion of a concrete bus stand. The Leader of Opposition in the CMC Jayananda and other Congress leaders rushed to the spot to support the petty shop owners when they came to know of the demolition and protested against it. This caused the demolition activity to cease.

H.G. Chandrashekhar, a petty shopkeeper, told presspersons that he had set up a tea shop 23 years ago. The CMC had not given him any notice before the demolition work was taken up. All petty shopkeepers were taken by surprise, when the earth moving equipment arrived on the spot. The CMC had not renewed the licence of his shop since 2005. But he had paid a tax of Rs. 1,558, which was valid till March 2013, he said.

Mr. Jayananda said the Congress was not opposed to development, but the CMC should make alternative arrangements for the shopkeepers as some of them were solely dependent on the income generated from their shops, he said.

Later, a delegation of Congress leaders and petty shopkeepers met Mr. Kiran Kumar at CMC Office in Udupi to talk about the issue.

CMC’s view

Mr. Kumar said most of the shopkeepers were not the real owners of the petty shops. The actual owners had sublet their shops to them and collected a daily rent. Most shopkeepers were clearing their shops of their own volition, he said. This led to argument between the Congress leaders and the CMC President and some BJP municipal councillors. Finally, a compromise was reached.

Mr. Kumar said it had been decided that the shopkeepers would be given time till Saturday to clear out their shops and identify the spaces next to inner lanes, where they would be allowed to set up shops, provided there were no objections from people or road congestion there. These spots would be checked by the CMC Standing Committee.

“The Congress is politicising the issue,” he said.

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