Mayor Firhad Hakim told a gathering of hawkers on Friday that they were behaving stubbornly in some places and not obeying rules, which he did not support.
Hakim told the hawkers that they must realise if shoppers felt inconvenienced and stopped visiting a shopping hub, they, too, would lose business.
The mayor referred to complaints from traders in New Market that hawkers around the central Kolkata shopping destination were violating rules. The hawkers must act in a way that owners of shops along the pavements are not inconvenienced, he said.
Hakim, who was addressing the gathering near New Market, also said hawkers cannot sell space on the pavement if they decide to quit hawking.
The mayor has often spoken about the need to regulate hawkers, but his comments on Friday assume an added significance since he was speaking at a programme organised by a hawkers’ union on the occasion of the International Hawkers Day. Hawkers from various parts of the city were in the audience.
“I have some complaints. In some places, hawkers behave stubbornly. You must ensure that the shop-owners, too, are able to run their businesses properly. Live and let live,” he said.
“Our government is not against hawkers. We will give you certificates of vending so that you can do your business without fear of harassment.”
Traders from New Market had met officials of the Kolkata Municipal Corporation (KMC) earlier this month and complained that hawkers sit on roads with their wares in violation of rules, deterring many shoppers from visiting the market.
The hawkers keep their wares tied to the wall and then cover them with large plastic sheets before they leave at night. New Market traders fear the shopping hub would be up in flames if any of the stalls catches fire.
The Bengal government has framed a set of rules for pavement hawkers. The rules bar the use of plastic sheets by hawkers because those are flammable. Also, hawkers cannot occupy more than one-third of the width of a pavement and encroach on a road.
One of the rules state no stall should face a road.
But these rules are flouted across the city. Hawkers are still using plastic sheets in many places, including New Market and Hatibagan.
In both shopping hubs, more in New Market, hawkers have set up stalls on roads.
Only in Gariahat the civic body has been partially successful in regulating hawkers, most of whom have stopped using plastic sheets and have left adequate space on pavements free for pedestrians.
Hakim also asked members of the city’s town vending committee to meet officers of New Market police station and find a solution to the problem faced by New Market traders.
“The hawkers must sit in a regulated manner,” the mayor said.
Officers from New Market police station were present when Hakim was speaking.
The Street Vendors (Protection of Livelihood and Regulation of Street Vending) Act, 2014, has empowered town vending committees to regulate hawkers in the respective towns and cities.
Hakim also told hawkers that they must inform the committee if they want to quit hawking.
“In case you get a job and do not want to remain ahawker, you have to inform the committee. The committee will hand over the spaceto someone who has applied for hawking. You cannot sell your space to someone,” he said.