The familiar hassle of coming out of railway stations and having to squeeze your way past crowded roads and footpaths may end soon.
If all goes according to the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation’s (BMC) draft scheme for street vending (of which HT has a copy), the 50-meter area around railway stations, bus depots and municipal hospitals will be designated no-vending zones.
Also, crowded roads at the vicinity of railway stations will be marked as restricted vending zone [venors will be allowed only during some hours of the day or during non-peak hours]. For instance, Dadar station premises are perpetually crowded as the footpaths and access roads have been claimed by hawkers with little or no space for pedestrians. Effective implementation of the scheme will help decongest such busy areas.
The draft scheme also states that the municipal commissioner, as the case may be, may declare any private place as vending, non-vending or restricted vending zone, taking into account the objections by the owner.
Experts, however, said certain clauses in the draft scheme are ambiguous. Nayana Kathpalia, a trustee of NAGAR that which has been working towards reclaiming open spaces, has obtained the draft scheme under the RTI. She said, “The scheme is supposed to be clear about the implementation of the Street Vending Act. However, it is not clear on this. Also, it talks about non-peak hours but does not state the time. If the scheme is implemented, the decisions will be made again according to the whims of ward officers.”
The draft also does not talk about the natural markets – something that experts have been demanding for a long time. The BMC though has mentioned about heritage markets (where vending is being carried out for more than 50 years). Such markets can only be relocated if a suitable alternative is provided in accordance with the scheme.
The draft scheme has also laid down the methodology for hawker’s surveys, the scrutiny and finalisation of vendors list, identity cards, allotment of pitches, vending fees, penalty and relocation.
In an attempt to decongest the footpaths, the BMC has also suggested that pitches be demarcated on footpaths as vending zones only if they are wider than 10 feet or three metres. However, the suggestions, if approved, may be difficult for even the civic body to follow.
After the BMC began the exercise to mark hawking pitches earlier this year, the road department had written to anti-encroachment department to reconsider the plan to demarcate pitches as 50% of the roads marked have footpaths that less than three metres wide.