Despite several drives and news reports highlighting the menace, there seems to be no end in sight to the encroachments in the city. In the past one year, the municipal corporation has conducted more than 300 anti-encroachment drives. But that has failed to give residents any respite from the menace.
Illegal encroachments by cart pullers and roadside vendors return soon after the drives are completed, with the corporation not following up.
Ironically, the problem is most prevalent in the old city area close to the municipal corporation headquarter, bringing it under fire for allowing these encroachments. But to no avail.
Superintendents of four zones of the corporation are responsible to remove these encroachments in different areas.
However, officials rue the interference by councillors from different political parties in anti-encroachment drives.
In a drive in Model Town of Zone D last week, the tehbazari wing officials were allegedly threatened by local leaders.
Consequently, wing's Zone D superintendent Naveen Malhotra, who recently was shifted to Zone B, called mayor Harcharan Singh Gohalwaria, who asked him to continue the drive without bowing to the pressure.
"We are between the devil and the deep blue sea. On the one hand, we are under pressure to regularly remove encroachments, on the other hand the political leaders stop us from doing our work. However, the mayor has told us that illegal encroachments should be removed at any cost," Malhotra said.
An official of the wing, requesting anonymity, said due to extensive pressure of local leaders and councillors in old city areas, the wing had not been able to take action against the shopkeepers, who keep different commodities on roadside, especially in Chaura Bazar and Fieldgunj. This leads to traffic jams in the area, causing inconvenience to commuters and pedestrians.
Meanwhile, the Rehri Fadi Federation general secretary Tiger Singh said these vendors earned their living by selling different items. "The government should form a policy to provide vending zones as approved in the bill that was recently passed by the Lok Sabha. After forming these vending zones there would be no problem of traffic jams across the city."
No record of items seized in drives
The disorder within the tehbazari wing can also be gauged from the fact that there is no system of keeping a record of items that are taken away by the wing during anti-encroachment drives.
The vendors whose items are picked up have to go to the store of the wing and select their item and then give a penalty to release the same. The system has been criticised as there have been instances when the items were taken away by someone other than the owner.