The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC), the richest civic body of the country has introduced a new method to minimise traffic on the roads of Mumbai by crushing the handcarts of illegal hawkers. Earlier the Corporation used to return the handcarts to the vendors after imposing a fine. On Saturday, the BMC authorities seized more than 4000 illegal handcarts and crushed them with the help of JCB machines at the Antop Hill Warehouse ground.
Nikhil Desai, Activist, Action for good Governance and Networking in India (AGNI) said, “The carts which have been destroyed are national property. If the BMC wants to send a message to people that it is not going to tolerate the hawkers, then they have to destroy these carts. In Mumbai where people don’t have space to walk, in such a situation if hawkers carry on their business by using hand carts then it should not be allowed.”
“The Supreme Court had issued guidelines pertaining to segregating hawking and non-hawking zones. However, five years have passed and the guidelines are yet to be implemented. Every time changes are made into guidelines pertaining to eligibility of issuing identity cards to hawkers but they are not implemented.”
“90,000 hawkers have applied for hawking license. All the action taken by the BMC against hawkers is an eyewash. Hawking zones should be earmarked in the Development Plan of the city,” he added.
As we all have noticed that there are many places in the metropolis where the streets are full with such kinds of hawkers. There are some stations like Dadar, Bandra, Andheri, Kandivali and many more where we can find such hawkers who sell goods on handcarts. They cover the roads with their wares. According to the BMC, the hawkers occupy these places to sell goods on roads and footpaths and these are a major reasons contributing to traffic jams.
RTI activist Anil Galgali said, “The BMC has taken a right step in evicting hawkers. This drive should be held at other areas of Mumbai too. The BMC must take strict action against hawkers as they return the next day after eviction drive. If ID cards are issued to approximately 15,000 hawkers then demarcated hawking zones must be created for them. The BMC should also think about rehabilitation of illegal hawkers.”
The civic body has also planned to issue ID cards or embossed cards to the hawkers so that they cannot transfer to someone else. As per a BMC report, they have listed down a number of eligible hawkers from the hawker registration drive. And the report also says that 1 lakh hawkers were found to be eligible. However, after verification, the list was chopped down to 15,379.
Coordinator of AGNI James John said, “Just demolishing handcarts will not help. BMC has done this to just show that they are working. Instead of randomly taking action on the hawkers, they should work on ward levels and ensure that the streets are it is ‘hawkers free’. If they really are serious about evicting the hawkers they should have done in it much better way. This is just an eyewash and Tamasha that the BMC is doing.”
According to a BMC officer, they have introduced this new bar-coded cards or embossed cards policy as this will make it easier for them to scan and verify all the details of the hawkers easily. It’s been reported that the civic body will mention the details like the hawker’s name on the ID cards, the commodity to be sold, location and the pitch number (one that identifies the hawker’s zone) that needs to be renewed every month.
Former Central Information Commissioner Shailesh Gandhi said, “If there is proper crackdown on any illegal activity, I think that’s a great thing and we should encourage the BMC or any other government organization to stop such illegal activity.”
Talking about the illegal carts, the BMC has crushed 4,291 four-wheeler illegal handcarts that were seized from across the 26 civic wards in a special drive carried out last month. Earlier, the civic body had seized over 2,500 carts.
Reportedly, the drive that was initiated on November 16 continued for the next 15 days. Also a large numbers of such carts were impounded from the eastern and western suburbs.
As per the sources,the Corporation decided to crush the carts after it was found out that the method of imposing monetary fine on hawkers (for using illegal carts) ceased to have any effect as they were resuming business after paying the fine. The BMC will auction the scrap at a later date.
Activist Huzaifa Electricwala said, “Whatever decision the BMC and government takes a decision about demolition of carts of hawkers then should offer them substitute employment. If unemployment increases then crime rates will increase in the country. Shiv Sena is in power in BMC and running the government so they should ensure that that crime rates and unemployment doesn’t increase.”