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KochiMay 24Shops and business establishments in and around the city remained closed on Thursday on account of hartal called by various trade bodies under the Kerala Chamber of Commerce and Industry in protest against the demolition drive on the MG Road, the commercial lifeline of the city.

The Chamber President, Mr E.S. Jose, said that natural justice was denied to traders by the swift action of the Ernakulam district administration and he alleged that the shop owners were not given ample time to remove their goods from the buildings while carrying out the demolition drive.

He said the action initiated by the authorities in this regard is unilateral and they have not given sufficient notice to those traders before the demolition. The parts of the buildings were razed to the ground by earthmovers and this has affected the strength of the remaining structure of the buildings, he said.

Meanwhile, the demolition drive on the MG Road has been stopped for a week following the Government decision to grant more time to those who have been served eviction notices.

It is pointed out that the administration had able to resume around 40 cents of land during the day-long drive against encroachments on MG Road.

Almost 30 encroachments were cleared on Wednesday and fresh notices were served on another 38 establishments. The District Collector, Mr A.P.M. Mohammed Hanish, said the surveying process, including in the taluks, would be strengthened during the week-long breather given to encroachers on MG Road.

The hotels and restaurants in the city also participated in the hartal by downing their shutters.

(This article was published in the Business Line print edition dated May 25, 2007)
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