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Lajpat Nagar traders welcome Delhi high court order to remove street vendors

The Delhi high court has asked police and civic authorities to evict all street vendors from Central Market in Lajpat Nagar, citing concerns over security in the popular bazaar that was targeted by terrorists nearly two decades ago.

delhi Updated: Jul 07, 2017 20:57 IST
Vibha Sharma
Vibha Sharma
Hindustan Times
Delhi HC,Lajpat Nagar,Street vendors
The Delhi high court has asked police and civic authorities to evict all street vendors from Central Market in Lajpat Nagar, citing concerns over security in the popular bazaar that was targeted by terrorists nearly two decades ago(Ravi Choudhary/HT PHOTO)

Tara, a street vendor at Pushpa Market, Lajpat Nagar, has no idea that the Delhi High Court on Thursday ordered the removal of all squatters from the central Delhi market.

All she knows is that two days ago, the South Delhi Municipal Corporation had put up a board at the entrance of the road, announcing that the stretch is a “no-squatting zone”. “But there is no official information,” she said.

For her the board means several failed attempts by the civic bodies to remove squatters.

“Civic agencies keep coming here and carry out their anti-encroachment drives, along with the police. But vendors return to their place after a few days. We are here for the last 20 years and have no other place to go to,” said Tara.

According to an association of the people who ply their trade from footpaths and encroachments along the road, the place has been the source of livelihood for 800-900 families for decades. They sell all sorts of items — clothes, bags, furnishing material, items of daily use and eatables. Members of the association said unless the government provides them an alternative site to ply their trade, removal would be injustice.

“We are being harassed and penalised for encroaching the market unnecessarily. Even the regular shopkeepers occupy footpath/road and have never been questioned,” said Jitender Bahadur Singh, who runs his small shop on the road. He said squatters cannot be removed until the town vending committees are formed.

Traders in the market, however, hailed the high court order and said they are waiting for a prompt action against encroachers. They said it was only due to the inaction of the authorities that the problem has reached alarming proportions.

“Despite clear directions by the lieutenant governor and later the Supreme Court for removing the squatters from this place, no one took the matter seriously. As a result, the numbers of hawkers have risen to thousands. Having failed to get any relief, the shopkeepers had moved the court two years ago,”said Ashok Manchanda, a member of Lajpat Nagar traders association.

Manchanda said even though the police advise security agencies to take appropriate security measures at crowded Metro stations and markets but it’s not doing its own job seriously.

“Everyday, I can see a new face putting up a stall in front of my shop. I don’t know them or who allowed them to put up a stall here. It is the police and the civic agency’s responsibility to verify these people as they could be a security threat to the market,”said a shopkeeper, requesting anonymity.

Shopkeepers also alleged that the vendors have even covered the toilets for selling goods. “In case of an emergency, it won’t be possible for an ambulance or a fire engine to reach the place as the market remains choc-o-block,” said the shopkeeper.

According to a senior SDMC official, anti-encroachment action will start as soon as the high court’s order is received by the department. “We have already chalked out a plan for implementing the decision and ensuring they won’t come back again,” said the official.

Pranav Proothi, lawyer for the traders association, said the directions of the court will continue until the Town Vending Committee comes into operation and finally decides whether the area is to be a vending zone or no-vending zone.

First Published: Jul 07, 2017 20:56 IST