The BMC’s hawking policy has turned residents and hawkers against each other again. But Sharit Bhoumik, professor, Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS), who was a part of a committee set up by the BMC to rehabilitate hawkers, feels there is a solution that can please both parties.
Bhoumik says hawkers exist because residents need them, and it is necessary to stop seeing street vendors as a menace.
What is a major mistakes made by the BMC when it started the survey?
Before distributing the forms, the BMC should have carried out a survey listing each road, number of hawkers on them, and what they sell. This would have given a better idea to the number of hawkers in the city.
The survey should have been conducted in a day or two to ensure there were no bogus entries.
Is there a solution to the conflict between residents and hawkers, with both demanding the right to use pavements?
A more realistic view is required by BMC and citizens. Residents need hawkers, but they don’t want them right outside their houses. We can’t have a blanket resolution on use of pavements. Each street needs to be surveyed, and then a decision needs to be taken about what type of wares should be sold there. Rights of both pedestrians and hawkers are equally important.
Is relocation of hawkers from areas, now called natural markets, into different zones an ideal solution?
Relocation is possible, but not everywhere. For instance, if we have a blanket resolution to remove hawkers from outside railway stations, they will return as stations have high footfall.
Also, moving hawkers at places such as Santacruz market to the skywalk can help. This will help pedestrians and the vendors will continue to be in the same zone. In other areas, hawkers can be given kiosks on pavements, which will stop encroachments.