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96213PATH Article - Where is the space for 'legalised' hawkers, ask citizens

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    Jun 25, 2014
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      URL: http://epaper.dnaindia.com/story.aspx?id=60259&boxid=33083&ed_date=2014-02-22&ed_code=820009&ed_page=5

      Where is the space for ‘legalised’ hawkers, ask citizens

      The BMC is getting ready for the day when all the illegal hawkers in the city
      gain legal status. Civic activists are, however, in a state of disbelief and
      shock as they fail to comprehend how the city, with so little space, would
      accommodate so many hawkers. They are well aware that the municipal body has
      not made any special provisions for accommodating hawkers in its Development
      Plan (DP) for the next 20 years.

      Illegal hawkers have been always an issue for citizens, as the former have
      been quite assertive. Whether it is the Hill Road or Linking Road in Bandra
      and Khar, or outside Vile-Parle or Andheri railway stations, hawkers have
      always been aggressive whenever the authorities have tried to control them.

      Recent cases of spat between citizens and hawkers—at Band-Stand in Bandra
      and in Khar, or in Goregaon, where a couple was assaulted by street
      vendors—only suggest the might of the anti-social elements at work and the
      apathy of the police in confronting them.

      Even the license department staff of the BMC have been assaulted by hawkers
      at various areas, and these incidents are on BMC and police records.

      Atul Vora of CITISPACE, an NGO fighting for the open space in the city, said
      Mumbai should not be compared with any other cities. If the BMC plans to
      settle the ‘legitimate’ hawkers haphazardly, we will challenge that in
      court. “How can a civic body decide, on behalf of the citizens, about
      ceding their rightful space to hawkers,” asked Vora.

      Nayana Kathpalia of CITISPACE added that whatever might be the number of
      hawkers who would have to be legitimised as per the new Act, the city
      planning authorities would have to keep in mind the city’s holding

      “Where are such footpaths in the city where even after two-thirds of the
      space is occupied, there will be space for people to walk? We have to be
      practical enough in such matters,” said Kathpalia.

      The hawkers unions, however, have a different take on the issue. “Our
      constitution gives a person the right to engage in his/her business. Under
      article 19/1/g, hawking is a fundamental right. However, article 19/1/d gives
      pedestrians the right to move about without being hindered. The BMC and the
      police should strike a fine balance between the two rights,” said a
      hawkers’ union leader.

      ‘Not in my area’ approach

      Sandeep Deshpande, MNS corporator from Shivaji Park–Dadar asked how the BMC
      could think of settling hawkers near the station areas under the name of
      natural markets. “They have even suggested that ‘X’ amount of hawkers
      be settled or given space in residential areas. But who will allow hawkers
      near their buildings? Everyone wants to buy vegetables and household goods at
      reasonable rates, but no one wants hawkers next to their gates,” he said.


      In Vile Parle (west) near the station area, civic activists have been
      relentlessly trying to keep illegal hawkers away and have tried to convince
      residents to buy only from the municipal market, but residents keep buying
      from hawkers citing convenience. “However, when we offered to settle these
      hawkers on footpaths or nearby by-lanes in order to de-congest the station
      area, residents feel they are a menace and don’t want them in their
      area,” said a prominent civic activist in that area.