Hawkers in New Market and Hatibagan are continuing with their old habits: encroaching on roads and occupying more than one-third of the width of pavements.
In Gariahat, hawkers are still hanging worn-out pieces of clothes, which are not just eyesores but also flammable.
Hawkers rule the roost on pavements across the city, cocking a snook at the town vending committee which is empowered by law to regulate hawkers and take action against errant traders.
The committee includes hawker leaders, elected representatives, police and government officials. According to the Street Vendors (Protection of Livelihood and Regulation of Hawking) Act 2014, every city and town in West Bengal can have such a town vending committee.
Bertram Street and Humayun Place near central Kolkata’s New Market have scores of hawkers occupying about 5-feet of road space. Hawkers sell their wares in multiple rows in Humayun Place.
The hawking rules recently framed by the state government bar hawkers from encroaching on roads.
Similar scenes are visible in Hatibagan in the city’s northern part, too. Hawkers along Bidhan Sarani, near its intersection with Aurobindo Sarani, have encroached on the road. Besides, on certain stretches the shade over hawkers cover the entire width of the footpaths, leaving almost no space for sunlight to enter. The footpaths look like dark tunnels from some movie.
The town vending committee recently decided to allow hawkers to build a tin shade over their stalls, but made it clear that the shade should not cover more than a third of the footpath's width. The stalls, too, should leave two-thirds of a pavement's width free for pedestrians. In Hatibagan, neither rule is followed.
A hawker said the shades in Hatibagan were built about two years ago, long before the committee decided to allow hawkers to build such shades.
Debashis Kumar, mayoral council member in charge of the Kolkata Municipal Corporation’s parks and squares department and a member of the town vending committee of Kolkata, said the committee would decide at its next meeting when it would start work in New Market and Hatibagan.
“The work to build shades is coming to an end in Gariahat. At the next meeting of the committee, we will decide when we will start working in New Market and Hatibagan. All hawkers will have to ensure that their stalls conform to the rules,” he said.
In Gariahat, the hawkers are still using cloths to protect their stalls from dust. The worn-out cloth pieces are a fire hazard and also ruining the look of the place.
Kumar said cloth pieces would not be allowed to remain there forever and panels with graffiti and advertisements would be placed at the back of the stalls.
A hawker from Shyambazar had called up mayor Firhad Hakim on Friday and said she had to pay Rs 1.5 lakh to set up a stall near the Shyambazar five-point crossing. When The Telegraph called on her on Saturday, she showed stamp papers where the agreement had been recorded as evidence that she had made the payment.