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Hawkers refuse to vacate New Town pavements, cite fear of losing customers

Temporary hangars set up by the New Town Kolkata Development Authority to house the stalls have found few takers

Snehal Sengupta | Published 27.04.22, 06:39 AM
Stalls near Ecospace in New Town.

Stalls near Ecospace in New Town.

Picture by Bishwarup Duta

Road and pavement-grabbing shacks that sell anything from biryani to mobile phone accessories are a common sight in New Town.

The temporary hangars set up by the New Town Kolkata Development Authority (NKDA) to house the stalls have found few takers.

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Hawkers have not only set up bamboo and plastic stalls on walkways, several of them sell wares on carts placed right in the middle of roads and in bicycle lanes in all three action areas.

By the end of 2020, NKDA had set up temporary hangars to relocate the hawkers — one behind Nazrul Tirtha and two others adjacent to the Ecospace bus stop. But the hawkers have refused to move.

The entire pavement outside the DLF I building is a veritable market with makeshift stalls. The customers include employees of the companies that operate out of the DLF IT Park as well as residents of nearby housing complexes and cooperative societies.

Last Wednesday, The Telegraph saw stalls had blocked pavements in the DLF IT Park. Some hawkers had placed their carts in such a way that a portion of the road was blocked.

One of the temporary markets set up by NKDA is barely 200m away. The 100-plus stalls in the market were vacant except one, which houses a pharmacy.

Near the Ecospace intersection, rows upon rows of stalls were spotted right outside the temporary complex built by NKDA.

Rita Jana, who owns a food stall on the stretch, said they chose to operate from pavements instead of the temporary market as their customers found it difficult to walk the distance. “We have been operating from here for the past few years. If we shift, we might lose our customers. We had suffered a lot during the pandemic. Business had come to a halt. After that, many of our customers started working from home,” said Jana.

An NKDA official said they were identifying the hawkers on all stretches of New Town and would shift them to the hangars in phases.

NKDA chairman Debashis Sen said they would hold meetings with representatives of the hawkers and start allocating shops soon.

“Once the allotment is over, no one will be allowed to operate from the pavements,” said Sen.

Last updated on 27.04.22, 06:39 AM
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