Illegal vendors back on Delhi roads and streets two months after anti-encroachment drive

A spot check by HT found that two months after special task force carried out anti-encroachment drive, hawkers, vehicles and permanent structures are back in many areas in Delhi.

delhi Updated: Jul 12, 2018 23:15 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Delhi,Illegal encroachments in Delhi,Supreme Court
Illegal hawkers, vendors and rickshaw pullers occupy a major part of the road at Delhi’s Khari Baoli on July 11, 2018.(Sanchit Khanna/HT PHOTO)

Despite the Supreme Court orders to free the city’s roads of illegal street vendors and parking, the roads and pavements are still packed with encroachments with no permanent solution to the problem.

Hindustan Times on Wednesday did a spot check of seven busy stretches across Delhi, which had become primary targets of the Special Task Force (STF) since the drive started.

Illegal hawkers, vehicles and permanent structures were back where they were two months ago.

Sri Aurobindo Marg (Yusuf Sarai)

The four-kilometre stretch of Sri Aurobindo Marg between All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) and the Hauz Khas flyover had seen one of the biggest anti-encroachment drives by a joint team of two civic agencies and traffic police in mid-May.

Over 80 illegally parked vehicles and illegal extensions of shops were cleared. On Wednesday, when HT revisited the stretch, though the pavements were clear, an entire lane of the road on both sides was taken over by illegal parking.

“I have had a shop here for over a decade now. When the drive happened, that was the first time I saw the actual width of this road. With so many cars parked here all the time, there is never enough space for traffic,” said Prashant Singh, a shop owner in the Yusuf Sarai Market.

RK Puram (Church Road)

Located right in the middle of a government residential neighbourhood and office complexes, Church Road in RK Puram is littered with juice corners, roadside eateries and meat shops.

Encroachments seen on the footpath at RK Puram in New Delhi on July 11, 2018. (Burhaan Kinu/HT PHOTO)

In May, at least three drives were carried out on this road to ensure that the defaulters do not return. However, even during subsequent drives, teams found that these vendors constantly returned to their spots.

On Wednesday too, though the hawkers had become more vigilant, they were back in business.

Ma Anandmayee Marg (Govindpuri)

Several shops on Ma Anandmayee Marg were razed to clear the main road and the parallel roads of extensions, in the two drives that were carried out in May. Less than two months later, the shop owners had re-established their units.

“This is our livelihood. How can we park vehicles that have come for repairs inside the shops? When everyone in the city breaks the law, why are the rules so stringent only for the poor like us,” said Mansoor Ali, the owner of a repair shop.

Fateh Singh Marg (Govindpuri)

Residents of Fateh Singh Marg in Govindpuri said that merely days after a huge ruckus was created by shop owners and vendors for portions of their shops being demolished and items being seized, they had already started reconstructing their shops.

Stairways, drains, ramps and kitchen spaces that were extended beyond the permitted operating space have been reinstated.

Encroachments seen at Fateh Singh Marg in Govindpuri, New Delhi on July 11, 2018. A Special Task Force (STF) had carried out a series of anti-encroachment drives in the national Capital on the orders of the Supreme Court two months ago. (Burhaan Kinu/HT PHOTO)

Vijay Chowk, Vikas Marg

Unlike the other places, the situation is better at Vijay Chowk (near Vikas Marg) in east Delhi. This was mainly because on Wednesday, the east corporation carried out a round of demolition here. The first drive was initiated in early May, where the corporation had razed illegal extensions of at least 200 shops. The agency had also removed the debris immediately, so that shop owners can’t reuse it to build their shops. However, within days of this drive, shop owners rebuilt these structures.

After receiving complaints from residents, civic agency swung into action and carried two rounds of demolition last week.

“This used to be a 100-foot wide road but due to massive encroachments by the shop owners on both sides, little space has been left for the movement of traffic,” said Sangeeta Bansal, a resident of Laxmi Nagar.

Uttam Nagar

In west Delhi’s Uttam Nagar (east) Metro station, the roadside fruit and vegetable market is a major reason for the traffic nightmare.

“Morning or late at night, this road is always choked. A primary reason for it is that the street vendors and e-rickshaw drivers park on the sides. This is also a major safety hazard,” said Poornima Sehgal, a resident of Dwarka Mor.

Dabri

Less than two kilometres away, at the Dabri intersection, similar scenes at the local vegetable market brought the traffic to standstill. Unlicensed shared services have also become a reason for chaos. In the last two months, two drives were carried out by the STF and civic agencies claim other routine checks are also carried out to check illegal street vendors.

First Published: Jul 12, 2018 13:48 IST