Driving down the narrow bylanes of Patna City might become easier after the ongoing anti-encroachment drive conducted by the district administration, Patna Municipal Corporation (PMC) and the road construction department is complete.
Armed with sledgehammers and iron rods, civic workers, backed by a dozen police constables and officers, were seen razing illegal constructions on streets around Chowk, Macharhatta and Jhaoganj on Monday. Numerous shops and houses had encroached upon the carriageway by their owners building stairs or extending the front margins. Most of the 200 vegetable and fruit vendors, who conduct brisk business on these streets, had voluntarily removed their stalls and carts prior to the arrival of the anti-encroachment team on Monday.
Patna senior deputy collector Akhilesh Kumar, who was heading the drive, told The Telegraph: “To clear the Patna City streets from rampant encroachment, the drive is being conducted. It would continue tomorrow (Tuesday) in Purab Darwaja and Malsalami areas. We aim to cover the entire Patna City by December 20.”
The drive began at Ashok Rajpath on Saturday amid protests and violence by shopkeepers. The encroachers had smashed the windshield of a police jeep after the forces resorted to a lathicharge.
Though not violent, several shopkeepers expressed their protest on Monday as well. Shyam Tandon, a shopkeeper near Takht Shri Harmandir Sahib Gurdwara, said: “Such anti-encroachment drives are conducted every few months. Why doesn’t the PMC or the district administration clearly demarcate the areas for road, pavement and other utilities so that people like us know where to limit our shops?”
Gulu Rastogi, a shopkeeper from Chowk, said: “We did not receive any notice prior to the drive. The front margin of my shop was made of granite. I could have safely removed it if I was given 24 hours’ notice. But it was razed on Monday.”