Traders associations across Delhi on Thursday held a mega rally protesting against the ongoing sealing drive and demanded that the government brings an ordinance immediately to stop the exercise.

The Confederation of All India Traders urged the Delhi government to hold a one-day special session of the state Assembly to pass a bill to stop the sealing drive. The rally on Thursday began from Red Fort and ended at Ghanta Ghar in Chandni Chowk.

“The MPs from Delhi in Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha are keeping silent, perhaps they have forgotten that they are the elected representatives and many more elections will be held in future,” the secretary general of the confederation, Praveen Khandelwal, said. “They should not test the patience of traders. Many have also lost their jobs after the sealing of shops.”

Meanwhile, the Supreme Court on Thursday said it will begin the final hearing in the matter from April 2, ANI reported. The court said it will be a day-to-day hearing to decide the issue expeditiously.

The trader associations also demanded that the government immediately begin preparations for a new Master Plan 2021-2041. The Delhi Development Authority describes the Master Plan as “the long term perspective plan for guiding the sustainable planned development of the city”.

The associations also asked the government to constitute a working group comprising trade representatives, town planners, and architects under the chairmanship of Lieutenant Governor Anil Baijal, PTI reported.

Acting on instructions from a Supreme Court-appointed committee, civic officials began shutting down shops and restaurants in south Delhi’s Defence Colony Market on December 22 for alleged unauthorised constructions.

The civic body has since taken action against shops in 20 markets, including Khan Market, Mehar Chand Market, Sundar Nagar, Hauz Khas, Rajendra Nagar, Chhatarpur and Vasant Kunj. The shops were sealed as they allegedly have not paid conversion charges, and for encroachment and illegal construction, among other things.

Over the past two months, traders across the city have spoken out against the sealing drive and have protested by shutting shops and holding marches – even though the Centre said it would look at ways to amend the Delhi master plan 2021 to give the traders some relief. Members of the Delhi Development Authority met earlier in February to discuss the master plan and sealing drive.

The sealing drive has also become a flash point between the Aam Aadmi Party government and the Bharatiya Janata Party, which controls three municipal corporations in Delhi.