| A makeshift clothes stall on the footpath of Ashok Rajpath. Picture by Ashok Sinha |
Vendors, selling their wares on the footpath of Ashok Rajpath for generations, have cramped the 20ft-wide carriageway.
The footpath of Ashok Rajpath is better than the other ones in the city (5ftx10ft wide) but is of no use to pedestrians, who more than often have to take the road, risking life and limb. Some portions of the carriageway have been converted into parking lots. People visiting the multi-brand shops on Ashok Rajpath park their vehicles on the footpath.
Several hospitals and nursing homes, including Patna Medical College and Hospital, are located here. As pedestrians on Ashok Rajpath don’t find space on the footpath, they are forced to take the road, increasing traffic load. Subsequently, ambulances find it hard to reach their destinations.
“My garment shop is here since the past 35 years. My father used to run this shop. Patna Municipal Corporation (PMC) officials have never asked me to vacate this place,” said Mohammad Sarfaraz Ahmad, a stall owner.
Sunita Devi, who sells makhana, said she had never seen the PMC carrying out anti-encroachment drives in the past five years. “Hamare liye to achha hai ki nagar nigamwale nahi aate hain. Garib kahan jayega? Akhir hamen bhi to rozi roti kamani hai (It is good that civic officials don’t come. Where would the poor go? We also have to earn),” said Sunita.
Pedestrians, naturally, are miffed over the menace. M.N. Rizwan (40), a resident said: “Vendors have put up stalls in a very haphazard manner on the footpath. We have to be careful while walking on the footpath.”
Civic officials, however, claimed they had carried out an anti-encroachment drive before the Lok Sabha elections. “We carried out a drive before the polls but vendors came back.” said Shailesh Kumar, executive officer, Bankipore circle, PMC.