| Sunset Boulevard: Brisk Puja sales on the pavements of Gariahat
Around 100 hawkers-turned-traders, by way of self-rehabilitation after Operation Sunshine at Gariahat, are now threatened by encroachment on their own premises at Satadeep, in Hindustan Park. The hawkers of Rashbehari Avenue are blocking the gates of this complex, eating into a sizeable profit of the Satadeep traders.
The aggrieved traders have sought mayor Subrata Mukherjee’s help to get the entry points to their market complex cleared.
“I will try my best,” assured Mukherjee on Wednesday. “I feel proud when I see that there are at least 100 honest hawkers in my city,” he said.
According to him, roadside hawkers and ragpickers are the two problems that are presently affecting the city. “The hawkers block the footpaths by displaying their wares, while ragpickers dirty them,” the mayor said. “I wish the hawkers followed their predecessors and carried on business in a better way,” he added.
The Satadeep traders, meanwhile, are finding it difficult to enter their own complex. “Some hawkers place their wicker baskets in the passage, leaving the customers with hardly any space to enter the complex. During construction, these hawkers had promised to move away from our premises, but they have gone back on their word,” said Sudeb Pal, a trader, who was instrumental in setting up Satadeep.
At a time when nearly Rs 15 crore spent by the state government and the Calcutta Municipal Corporation (CMC) had gone down the drain and provision for resettlement of 6,400 hawkers remained a question mark, the Satadeep traders had set an example by rehabilitating themselves at their own expense.
The 100 hawkers purchased a 10-cottah plot for Rs 1 crore and spent Rs 80 lakh to construct the two-storeyed complex. “It was not much of a hassle for us, since we had been trading on the Gariahat footpaths for nearly 20 to 25 years. All of us contributed Rs 2 lakh and the complex came up quite smoothly,” said Pal. “However, we have to acknowledge that without minister Kanti Ganguly’s help, we could not have got the land,” he added. But it seems, their joy is to be shortlived.
The aggrieved traders are now seeking Mukherjee’s help to get the passage to the premises cleared and to convert it into an air-conditioned market. “I don’t believe in rehabilitating hawkers, who are basically law-breakers. Those encroaching the complex would be dealt with firmly,” asserted Mukherjee.