The mayor of Kolkata said on Friday that the city’s police commissioner was sitting on his letter seeking action against hawkers who use plastic sheets, which are inflammable, on their stalls on footpaths.
Mayor Firhad Hakim said he had sent the letter to the commissioner of Kolkata police, Vineet Goyal, on November 2. “I have not seen action anywhere,” Hakim said.
He said politicians were called “prabhabshali (influential)” in courts. “We are so influential that the police do not listen even after we tell them something,” he said.
Asked about Hakim’s comments about the letter addressed to him, police commissioner Goyal sent a WhatsApp message to The Telegraph: “As per the decision taken in a meeting by Kolkata Municipal Corporation, a joint survey by Kolkata Municipal Corporation/ Kolkata Police and other stake holders to identify the unauthorised hawkers is underway. We have given clear instructions to all PS (police stations) to provide necessary assistance to KMC in the unauthorised hawker encroachment removal.”
The mayor also accused a section of cops of being hand-in-glove with hawkers.
He was speaking after the weekly phone-in programme, “Talk To Mayor”, at the civic headquarters.
“I gave Vineet Goyal a letter on November 2, for which he has not taken any action yet. This is about the use of plastic (by hawkers). There was a fire in Gariahat during winter,” Hakim said.
“Hawkers are sitting on more than one-third of the (width of the) pavement. Plastic is a big problem. There can be a fire any time. I sent the letter on November 2 but I have not seen any action anywhere. The police have to take responsibility for this,” he said.
“I do not have evidence but I have heard that some hawker unions and police have a monthly system.... If there is an accident, some people may be killed.”
According to the Kolkata Municipal Corporation rules, hawkers cannot occupy more a third of the width of a pavement, cannot encroach on any road and cannot use plastic sheets or sheets made of any other inflammable items to cover the stalls.
Almost every stall on footpaths is wrapped in hazardous plastic sheets. A fire had gutted a portion of Gurudas Mansion, at the Gariahat crossing, in January 2019. The fire had allegedly spread to the first floor through plastic sheets on hawkers’ stalls.