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Gambling on hawkers’ licence

BMC’s hawker registration drive draws flak as illegal hawkers throng in large numbers at footpath for getting themselves registered.

Lead-HawkerThe manner in which the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) has conducted hawker registration drive has been criticized by citizens, policy makers and political parties. After the hawker registration process began few days back several fake vendors have been erecting their stalls filling up forms for obtaining the hawker license. The old legal hawker’s and local residents allege that malpractices are occurring due to alleged nexus between the BMC official, local politicians and police officials. Even though several non hawking zones exist in this city but even these spaces have been encroached by illegal hawkers.

Abdul Kader Merchant, a Masjid Bunder resident said, “The entire Chakla Street Road (which is also known as Sheriff Devji Street road) and adjoining areas which comes under the Masjid Bunder area had been declared as non-hawking zones. This area comes under the BMC “B” ward jurisdiction. Attempts are being made to convert these areas into hawking zone. As a result of this, we are undergoing severe hardships.”

Abdul alleges that since he had taken an initiative to stop illegal encroachments, he and his family are being threatened by hawkers and other people. For preventing illegal encroachment, he has forwarded a letter to the BMC Commissioner Sitaram Kunte, Police Commissioner Rakesh Maria and other concerned officials.

Residents claim that illegal hawkers had encroached the space by setting up stalls of fruit juice, dry fruit, cap, footwear, bag and others.

BMC officials have been selling the registration forms which are available for Rs 100 at Rs 1000. Corporators alleged that licence department officials who are the custodians of those receipt books, have been forging and issuing fake backdated receipts to applicants for a hefty sum.

Hawker Akhilesh Tiwari who has been running his business from last 10 years said, “There is an alleged nexus between illegal hawkers and other concerned officials. If the authorities fail to address this issue then there will be a surge in number of illegal hawkers in the city.”

Lead-Sunil-PrabhuTalking to AV, Sunil Prabhu, BMC Mayor, said, “We will be only providing licence to legal hawkers. Many illegal hawkers have filled the application forms and we will identify them and even reject their applications.I am not aware about this malpractice. Strict action will be taken against the erring BMC officials.”

MNS MLA Bala Nandgaokar had asked the BMC officials to halt the survey a week ago. He said, “New hawkers have entered the streets after the commencement of the survey. The BMC had failed to inform neither the citizens, nor the representatives about the survey. Many areas, restricted for hawkers, are being encroached upon by illegal hawkers. Instead of taking action, the BMC is assisting them by issuing licence forms.”

The BMC began the survey following a Supreme Court directive which had asked the civic body to implement the National Hawker Policy of 2009. According to the guidelines, hawkers should constitute 2.5 per cent of the total population. Based on this calculation, there should be 3 lakh registered hawkers in Mumbai, but there are only 18,000 of them at present.

Town Vending Committee (TVC) member Viren Shah said he objects to the way the registration drive is being carried out. “I have written a letter to the BMC commissioner and the TVC in-charge, voicing my opinion. Instead of curbing their numbers, the drive may lead to an increase of hawkers in Mumbai.”

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