Hours after the Mount Mary Fair began on Sunday, Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) workers razed more than a 100 “unauthorised” stalls and evacuated hawkers from Mount Mary Road.
“We had auctioned 170 stalls on the road leading to the church and 90 stalls on Rebello Ground to the locals based on the Bombay high court order. The stalls had to be set up only on one side of the road to prevent inconvenience to the residents,” said Manik Kshirsagar, assistant commissioner, BMC, (H west ward).
Some of the hawkers selling candles and rosaries had set up stalls on the wrong side of the road. “The unauthorised hawkers had to be evacuated from the other areas,” he added.
However, the hawkers claimed that the BMC had given little thought to devotees’ needs while allotting space for stalls. “We sell gram, which is considered to be the deity’s blessing. We were allotted stalls at the beginning of the hill. Who will buy the gram before visiting the church?” asked Pushpa Lawrence.
A few metres away, Agnes Bhujangal, 32, a chana (gram) stall owner, suffered a cardiac arrest allegedly after her stall was razed on Sunday. “Bhujangal’s husband is unemployed. She had pledged her gold to purchase the stock for the stall and earn money to fund her two daughters’ education,” said Sarah Fernandes, a neighbour. Bhujangal is admitted to the Holy Family Hospital.
“The hawkers should be happy with the allocation. By allotting 170 out of 190 stalls on Mount Mary Road, the BMC had done its best,” said lawyer Desmond D’souza, who appeared for the candle-sellers in the high court in a recent case regarding allocation of stall during the fair.