Last month, Hakim Mister, secretary of Hill Road Shopkeepers’ Association, incurred a loss of Rs 1.5 lakh after unlicenced hawkers broke into his Bandra-based optical showroom, damaging glass panels and eyeglasses.
Atul Vora, a Citispace activist living on Mathuradas Road in Kandivli (west), was beaten up by a group of hawkers in 2011, after he asked them to leave the street.
The two attacks are just examples of the challenges faced by shopkeepers and residents who fight against the encroachment of footpaths and roads by illegal hawkers.
Despite unsatisfactory results and threats from hawkers, these citizens, however, are determined to fight till they get the footpaths near their homes cleared. “The civic and police authorities have only given us false assurances. It’s a money-making racket, with them collecting bribes and fines from unlicenced hawkers,” said Mister, who is working with other association members to reduce the number of encroachments. “Every other day, we visit the ward office and complain about the hawkers. We have also gone on the streets and argued with the hawkers to leave, but to no avail,” said Mister.
Vora hopes the new hawking policy, which is waiting for a nod from the President of India, will help regulate hawkers in the city. “It is because of the absence of a hawking policy that instilling discipline on the streets is an ordeal.”
Chandrashekhar Prabhu, a city-based urban planner, said citizens are as much to blame for the encroachments as hawkers. “The city has been planned well enough to station hawkers. The problem is because of the lack of implementation of these plans and the buying patterns of the people,” said Prabhu.