Shop owners in India protest demolition of illegal buildings

Shop owners and traders in India's capital shuttered their businesses Tuesday to protest the demolition of illegal buildings by municipal authorities, news reports said. The demolitions began last week after the New Delhi High Court ordered some 18,000 unauthorized structures demolished within four weeks.

Many shop and owners and traders in New Delhi's 500-odd markets joined Tuesday's strike, demanding the demolitions be halted, the NDTV news channel reported. Officials were not immediately available for comment, but Municipal Commissioner A. K. Nigam was quoted as saying in Tuesday's edition of The Hindu newspaper that demolitions would continue, despite the strike.

A number of the demolitions have targeted the city's often overbuilt markets and adjoining residential neighborhoods, where buildings have often been put up with little regard for building codes or zoning rules.

Many residents and owners of these buildings deny any wrongdoing in building the structures, and are demanding officials who permitted, or overlooked, such construction in the past be punished instead of having homes and business torn down.

In its ruling earlier this month, the High Court said city authorities colluded with builders, allowing apartment and commercial buildings to be constructed in violation of city rules.

Since the demolitions began, there have been sporadic clashes between residents and demolition squads, although authorities have reportedly managed to raze scores of buildings, reports the AP. I.L.

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