Illegal pavement vendors choke Sakchi market on Thursday. (Bhola Prasad)
Fearing that twin blows of eve-teasing and space crunch would keep away customers during an economic climate neck-deep in recession, Sakchi traders on Thursday demanded removal of illegal vendors and installation of CCTV cameras.
Traders under the banner of Singhbhum Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SCCI) held a 90-minute meeting with East Singhbhum DC Amitabh Kaushal.
Delegates told the DC about a spurt in crimes against women at Sakchi market, spread over 5sqkm with over 2,000 holdings that had everything from complexes and standalone shops selling clothes, stationery and fancy articles, electronics and consumer goods, sweets and snacks.
Traders directed their ire towards illegal vendors who squatted on pavements without paying tax. They alleged the vendors teased girls and women and blocked pavement space that made it tough for customers to enter shops, with the result that tax-paying traders lost out on clientele.
Encroachers left no space for fire tenders and ambulances to enter during emergencies, the SCCI delegation said.
Some 1,500 pavement vendors squat daily near Bata Chowk, Dalda Line, Jhanda Chowk and near Basant Talkies.
This is contrary to the pact reached mutually between traders and squatters in 2012, where the latter had agreed to do business only on Tuesday, the weekly off for shops.
The SCCI cited an ugly incident that took place on Wednesday, around 8.30pm, when one footwear vendor near Bata Chowk had teased a woman, which led to a verbal war. Sakchi police had to be called to resolve the issue.
“Such incidents happen regularly and often go unreported,” SCCI vice-president Suresh Sonthalia said, alleging vendors safeguarded their interests by bribing the police.
“We told the DC that we would install CCTV cameras but police and administration had to monitor footage so that trouble-mongers are caught. We also want women constables in plainclothes to curb eve-teasing,” Sonthalia said.
The DC has promised to arrive at a permanent solution for illegal squatters.