| The footpath along Station Road encroached upon by hawkers and vendors. Picture by Ashok Sinha |
The footpath at Station Road next to Patna Junction should ideally have been frequented by hundreds of people everyday but civic apathy and rampant encroachment has left little space for pedestrians.
Taking the footpath is a nightmare, as hawkers, fruit- and vegetable sellers and others, squat on the stretch.
The situation is even worse around Patna Junction roundabout and in front of Hanuman Mandir. Thousands of travellers and devotees risk their lives walking on the street amid plying autorickshaws and buses.
“I visit Hanuman Mandir every Tuesday and even getting inside the temple seems a daunting task. All flower sellers sit on the footpath in front of the shrine and there is hardly any space for pedestrians. One can hardly walk 50m on the carriageway without colliding with a hawker or a stall,” said Rishabh Pandey, a resident of Sheikhpura Mor.
“We have written several times to the authorities, including police and the district administration, to decongest Patna Junction roundabout. However, no significant step has been taken till date. We have suggested to the state government to relocate the beggars around the temple to some other place. More policemen should be deployed here to keep tabs on rampant encroachment by street vendors,” said Kishore Kunal, the secretary of the Mahavir Sthan Trust Committee.
According to norms, the street vendors and hawkers at Station Road can put up shop between the two railings. Butthe vendors do not have to pay anything and carry out their business for free and use the space between railings and the footpath to keep their stocks. They park carts on the street.
“I am running my cloth stall here for nearly three decades. I agree that many stalls have encroached upon the footpath and street but we do not have any option. This is how we eke a living. Where else can we go? If the government arranges an alternative place for us, we would leave,” said Akhtar Imam, a hawker on Patna Station Road.
The haphazard parking on the street also makes it impossible for pedestrians to use the footpath. Apparently, a suggestion by authorities at Mahavir Mandir is pending with the state government.
“The only solution to parking problem in this area is in the form of land between Mahavir Temple and the adjacent Jama Masjid. The ground floor should be used for parking and upper floors could be used as shops,” said Kunal.
The civic body on the other hand, claimed it would carry out an anti-encroachment drive within a week.
“Though we have carried several anti-encroachment drives on Station Road in the past, the encroachers come back. This time, we are co-ordinating with the deputy superintendent of police and the police station to carry out drives over a number of days,” said Vishal Anand, executive officer, New Capital circle, PMC.