<p>Delhi deputy CM Manish Sisodia<br></p>
NEW DELHI: Deputy chief minister Manish Sisodia on Saturday wrote a strongly-worded letter to Union home minister Amit Shah, accusing him of getting the decision of chief minister Arvind Kejriwal to open hotels and weekly markets from August 1 overturned through the lieutenant governor, Anil Baijal. He said the Delhi government took the decision in compliance with the Centre’s guidelines and requested Shah to immediately direct the LG to approve the chief minister’s decision.
The LG had on Friday overturned the elected government’s decision to allow hotels and weekly markets to open. The government will resend the proposal to the LG on Tuesday.
“We know that the pandemic has battered the economy. Delhi is being subjected to a policy of double standards when the Centre is unfolding the process of unlock in the country and is trying to bring the economy slowly back on track,” Sisodia stated in the letter.
‘Govt to send file back to LG tomorrow’
The deputy CM explained that Delhi’s Covid-19 situation is largely under control for the past one month and is inching towards normalcy. Delhi is currently in the 11th position in the country in terms of active Covid-19 cases.
“At a time when hotels and weekly markets are open throughout the country — even in states like Uttar Pradesh and Karnataka which are reporting the highest number of Covid-19 cases — what does the central government want to achieve by keeping hotels and weekly markets of Delhi shut is beyond comprehension,” Sisodia wrote. He asked why Delhi was being forced to keep economic activities shut though it has excelled in managing the Covid-19 situation.
“Eight per cent of businesses and employment in Delhi are affected due to the closure of hotels. The closure of the weekly markets has left five lakh families without a source of income. Now when they hope that due to the Covid-19 situation coming under control, they will get an opportunity to restart their business, forcing them to keep their businesses closed is injustice to the economy and the hope of lakhs of people,” Sisodia said in the letter.
Sisodia urged the home minister to change his decision, indirectly claiming that the decision of the LG was actually the decision of the home minister. “I request you to change your decision and immediately direct the LG to approve the proposal of the chief minister. The government will resend the file to the LG on Tuesday. Convey to him not to stop the file again. The economy will get a boost and new jobs will be created when the traders of Delhi will start their businesses,” the deputy CM stated, hoping that the home minister would take cognizance of the matter and issue directions in favour of the traders.
The LG’s decision came as a shock to hotel owners who are facing acute financial distress. Their establishments have been closed for the past four months but they have to pay fixed electricity charges, water charges, house tax and conversion and sewerage charges. Many are finding it difficult to stay afloat.
After a meeting of hotel owners from Karol Bagh and Paharganj on Saturday evening, Jaspreet Arora, president of Hotel Association of Karol Bagh, said they have urged the LG to reconsider his decision because thousands of families are suffering. “Hotels are permitted to open even in Maharashtra which has the maximum number of cases,” said Arora. Chamber of Trade and Industry convener Brijesh Goyal also wrote to the LG, asking him to reconsider his decision.
After rejecting the AAP government’s decision, the LG’s office had on Friday explained that the LG took the decision because the Covid-19 situation in Delhi continues to be fragile. The statement said that the proposals for opening of hotels, hospitality services and weekly bazaars were being deferred for the time being and would be reviewed later by Delhi Disaster Management Authority. The Disaster Management Act, currently in force, empowers the LG to take a final decision in all matters related to any disaster and its management. The LG is the chairperson of the Authority.