A hawker survey that was planned for the shopping hubs of Gariahat, New Market and Hatibagan has stopped midway as the duration fixed for the process has come to an end.
The survey, which a senior functionary of the Kolkata Municipal Corporation (KMC) said would resume soon, was still under way in south Kolkata’s Gariahat and was yet to start in New Market in the central part of the city.
The exercise, which had among its objectives identifying the hawkers who were violating rules, has merely noted the names of traders and informed them about the rules. There has been no effort to make the errant hawkers adhere to the rules.
Some of the basic and most important rules are still being flouted. Hawkers are still sitting within 50ft of busy crossings, occupying more than one-third of the width of footpaths, running stalls facing roads and even encroaching on roads.
Hawkers are not supposed to do any of these, according to the hawking rules prepared by the state government, said an official of the KMC.
Hawkers are also not supposed to cover their stalls with plastic sheets because they are inflammable, another rule that is routinely violated across the city.
On some stretches in north Kolkata’s Hatibagan, plastic sheets have been replaced with bed sheets and other pieces of cloth.
The survey is being held under orders from the Town Vending Committee (TVC), which is made up of hawkers, KMC officials, police officers and elected representatives.
The Street Vendors (Protection of Livelihood and Regulation of Street Vending) Act, 2014, empowers the TVC to take decisions about the identification and regulation of hawkers.
“The survey was supposed to be completed in the three places by November 21, but that has not been possible. It has stopped for the time being. We have been able to complete the survey in Hatibagan. In Gariahat, 65 per cent of the area has been surveyed. In New Market, the survey did not start at all,” said Debashis Das, a member of the TVC and a hawker leader.
“The deadline for the survey was November 21. An extension of the deadline has to be sought from the TVC. Without its nod, the survey cannot continue beyond the deadline,” said a KMC official.
Debashis Kumar, a mayoral council member of the KMC and a member of the TVC, said the survey would resume soon.
When asked why only the names of hawkers were noted down and no attempt was made to force errant traders to abide by the rules, Kumar said: “A report will be submitted to the TVC once the survey is over. The TVC will discuss the report and decide what action will be taken against those who are violating rules.”
It was not immediately clear how much more time will be needed to reach that stage.
The findings of the survey so far have pointed to a sharp rise in the number of hawkers. In the Gariahat zone, where only 65 per cent of the area has been covered, the survey has come across 1,227 hawkers, said Das.
In 2015, only about 400 hawkers had applied to the KMC for hawking certificates in Gariahat, in response to the civic body’s invitation for applications.
In Hatibagan, 1,128 hawkers have been identified. In 2015, only around 350 applications had reached the KMC from the north Kolkata shopping hub.
Mayor Firhad Hakim said recently that the city’s police commissioner did not act on a letter from him calling for removal of plastic sheets from roadside stalls.
After a fire at Gurudas Mansion at the Gariahat intersection in 2019 — which allegedly spread to the building from a stall on the pavement through plastic sheets — the KMC and the police raided a few pockets and tore down plastic sheets.
The raids stopped after a few days and plastic sheets returned.