Sealed Star Hall shop-owners want to run businesses until everyone is evicted

Gangtok, 12 Nov:

Shop owners at Star Hall complex in Naya Bazar here, whose shops were sealed by the district administration on 05 November, have urged the concerned department to allow them to run their businesses until the entire building is vacated and dismantling begins.

They also urged the Gangtok Municipal Corporation to renew their licences by the same process it has renewed licenses of three shop owners in the same complex.

Addressing a press conference here today, they informed that out of 13 shops in the complex, only 10 were sealed on the evening of 05 November following the eviction order issued by the district administration.

“Our shops were sealed by referring us as ‘illegal occupants’ for running businesses without licenses in the complex. But we had repeatedly approached the GMC on time to renew our licences but GMC officials had denied us by claiming that UD&HD has given a written order not to renew any license for shops in the Star Hall complex since the dismantling process was to be initiated,” they informed.

On the same, they questioned how the licenses of three other shops had been renewed.

It is informed that the licence of one shop has already been renewed and two others were in the process of being renewed. These shops, they said, have not been sealed.

On the same, they demanded the concerned authorities to renew their licences through the same process.

They said, “We were made ‘illegal occupants’ forcefully by denying us renewal of our licences.”

They informed that the district administration had sent a notice for a meeting on 28 September and that not all shop owners received the notice.

“After learning about the notice, we met the DC East after two days and he assured to hear us in the second meeting. But without having the second meeting, the DC directly issued the eviction order on 28 October [Sunday]. We were really surprised as to what emergency had occurred to issue the order on a holiday,” they commented.

They clarified that they were not against the dismantling process or the upcoming project at the Star Hall complex.

“We are not against these but we only want that the authorities should allow us to run our businesses until the entire building is vacated for the dismantling process to begin,” they stressed.

They also mentioned that sealing of 10 shops in the complex has left 70 local youth unemployed.

“We have been facing lots of problems being unemployed now and in paying back loans to banks which we had taken and invested in these shops,” they said.

They mentioned that a PPP mode project of the shopping complex and car plaza would come up in this complex has been given to Kolkata-based Panchdeep Construction for a lease period of 43 years.

“If the new project is to be run by a private company, then how can local youth and people be benefited since the total profit will go outside,” they also questioned.

Meanwhile, they have written again to the East District Administration and are hoping for a positive outcome.

The press conference was addressed by Kushal Rai, Ashique Sai Lama, Raj Mohan Pradhan and Gyatso Samten Bhutia.