The three most crowded stations will get some breathing space if the civic body’s plans materialises.
The civic body wants to remove all encroachments from the roads and pavements leading to Dadar, Kurla and Andheri railway stations. Its Station Road Development project aims to make roads outside stations encroachment-free so that pedestrians have enough space to walk.
The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation’s (BMC) earlier plans to evict hawkers outside these stations have failed. It now hopes to start the pilot project before the monsoon. “We don’t have a permanent solution as hawkers return to the pavements as soon as we remove them,” said an assistant municipal commissioner requesting anonymity.
As part of station road development project on the lines of Station Area Traffic Improvement System (SATIS), officials from the road department, have started a survey of encroachments (including illegal extensions of shops) on the pavements and roads.
“We are planning to clear encroachments permanently from outside the three stations,” said Aseem Gupta, BMC’s additional municipal commissioner.
The roads will be widened if they have not adhered to the stipulated size under the development plan. Gupta has called a meeting in the first week of April to decide the course of action and budget allocation.
Though the civic body finds it difficult to clear encroachments on such roads, some non-government organisations have come up with a solution.
“The civic officials pretend that they don’t have a solution. They should need to follow the Supreme Court’s direction of keeping the 150-m area in the vicinity of railway station hawkers free,” said Citispace co-convenor Nayana Kathpalia.
Activists allege that the BMC is not following the rules.
Citizen activists GR Vora said the BMC officials need a strong willpower to do the job. “BMC should strictly follow its own rules. No sincere efforts were made by the respective ward officers for evicting hawkers.”
Vora said that the unauthorised hawkers could be penalised under the provisions of the BMC Act (Section 516 AAA). “The authorities have not complained to the police. The police have powers to arrest the hawkers if the BMC lodges a complaint.”
The activists demanded that the local senior police inspector and assistant municipal commissioner be held responsible for encroachments in their areas.
Rahul Shewale, chairman of the civic standing committee, hoped that the plan would be successful and is implemented within the next six months.
“These are most vulnerable station areas in the city and if they can be made encroachment-free, then the same formula could be applied to other stations as well,” he said.