Locked down Fashion Street hawkers seek reopening of marketUpdated: Sep 22, 2020, 21:25 IST
At least 448 hawkers operating at Fashion Street in Pune Camp, a popular shopping destination between MG road and East Street where clothes, footwear, watches, artificial jewellery and other accessories are available at throwaway prices, have demanded reopening of the marketplace. The Pathari Seva Sangh, a representative body of the fashion street hawkers led by its president MV Akolkar, says it has suffered a loss of approximately six crore due to the lockdown.
A few days ago, some hawkers with shops located at the entrance of the market restarted their business without permission and faced action by the Pune Cantonment Board (PCB) authorities and the cantonment police for violation of the Epidemic and Disaster Management Act. Hawkers cite tough financial conditions, including serious survival issues, as the reason behind their demand to reopen the market, which has been under lockdown for the past six months.
The MG road hawkers and Pathari Seva Sangh has demanded that the market, which has an approximate annual turnover of 12 crore, be reopened at the earliest wherein norms like social distancing, extensive usage of sanitisers and mandatory wearing of masks will be followed.
The PCB administration, meanwhile, has scheduled the matter to be heard before the board members and a final decision is awaited. PCB chief executive board Amit Kumar, said, “We have received representation from the hawkers’ association seeking to restart their business. We have heard their grievances and the final decision will be taken only after the matter is discussed in the next board meeting. We have also written to the Pune police regarding opening of stalls at Fashion Street and Khadda Market without board permission. This step has been taken to prevent the spread of Covid-19 in the area.”
Hawkers union president Akolkar, said, “We had demanded reopening of Fashion Street. Social distancing and all other health-related guidelines will be followed. We had suggested reopening the market on alternate days, but the board has not given permission to us till date. The lockdown has affected the hawkers and their families and they are being reduced to penury due to the longstanding shutdown.”
Yusuf Osman Khan, vice-president of the association, said, “The market needs to be reopened at the earliest. When markets under Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC ), Pimpri Chinchwad Municipal Corporation (PCMC) and other areas are being given permission to operate, then why are we not permitted to restart our business?”