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Axe plan for New Market hawkers

The Calcutta Municipal Corporation (CMC) has decided to remove hawkers from the roads surrounding New Market, a task that even civic officials think would be difficult to achieve because of opposition from several quarters.

The mayoral council member in charge of markets, Tarak Singh, said the hawkers sitting on the metalled road would be removed to create more space for cars and pedestrians.

The CMC has also decided to stop parking on Bertram Street, which connects SN Banerjee Road with Lindsay Street.

“I went on a tour of the roads surrounding New Market today. The hawkers sitting on the roads have to go. We won’t be able to remove the hawkers occupying pavements because the Centre has made a law that guarantees their right to hawk,” said Singh.

“I told the hawkers occupying the roads to talk among themselves and leave. If they don’t, law will take its course.”

Singh said the decision to remove hawkers and stop parking was taken following complaints about lack of space around New Market.

Bertram Street and Humayun Place, the road in front of New Empire, hardly have any space for pedestrians or cars. Hawkers have taken up almost half or even more of the roads.

But many civic officials said the civic body’s move might not succeed. “The CMC elections are due next year. It is unlikely that the ruling party would do anything that would antagonise the city’s large hawker population,” a CMC official said.

The difficulty of the task was apparent in what one hawker in the New Market area told Metro. “There have been no discussions on removing hawkers. We will talk among ourselves to see how to create more space on the roads,” said Mohammad Shanawaz, a leader of the North and Central Calcutta Progressive Hawkers Union affiliated to Trinamul.

In the past, several civic boards had made attempts to free Calcutta’s pavements of hawkers but none succeeded.

Mayoral council member Singh is aware of what he is up against. “I know it will be difficult but I am hopeful that we will be able to remove the hawkers and free the roads of encroachments,” he said.