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Police and Kolkata Municipal Corporation oblivious to stall encroachment on roads at Gariahat intersection

We conduct drive against hawkers, violations may have been overlooked: Police officer

Subhajoy Roy | Published 30.05.22, 06:28 AM
Guarddrails installed by police in Gariahat for pedestrians.

Guarddrails installed by police in Gariahat for pedestrians.

Hawkers have set up stalls encroaching on roads at the Gariahat intersection in south Kolkata, while police and Kolkata Municipal Corporation (KMC) allegedly look the other way.

Stalls selling tea, fruit juices and soft drinks have expanded on the roads off the intersection. The footpaths have long been gobbled up by hawkers and now the edges of the roads, too, are being occupied by them.

The police, instead of pushing back the hawkers from the roads, have carved out space from the road for pedestrians by installing guardrails.

Two adjacent stalls selling tea and fruit juices are blocking at least 2ft of space of Rashbehari Avenue, at the southwest corner of the intersection.

The stove, the table on which the stove is kept and the cooking counter are all on the road. Next to the tea stall, a counter selling fruit juice, too, has encroached on the road.

Biswajit Halder, who was making tea in the stall, said no one had stopped them from running the stall. The stall has been set up facing the road, as a result of which customers have no option but to stand on the road.

Stalls encroach upon road space in Gariahat

Stalls encroach upon road space in Gariahat

Hawkers block pavements in Gariahat.

Hawkers block pavements in Gariahat.

The stalls even have boards announcing their names — Bapi Special Tea and Coffee and Bapi Special Lassi. Halder said the same person owned both.

Across the road, at the north-west corner, another stall selling fruit juice has been set up on the road. This one, too, faces the thoroughfare. An identical picture was seen on the stretch of Gariahat Road, between the intersection and Golpark. A soft drink stall set up on a pavement has kept cartons of soft drinks on the edge of the road.

As the footpath is out of bounds for pedestrians, the cops have installed guardrails on the road to make a safe passage for the pedestrians.

At a meeting with the councillors on May 20, Debasish Kumar, a mayoral council member and the MLA of Rashbehari, said hawkers could not occupy any space within 50 metres of any intersection and could not set up stalls on roads.

He also pointed out that the rules were not being followed in many places.

Kumar later told The Telegraph that he had seen how hawkers in Gariahat have encroached on roads. “I have spoken to the police and KMC officials. We will conduct a raid soon to remove them from the roads,” he said.

An officer at Gariahat police station said: “We conduct drives against hawkers. These cases may have been overlooked.”

The KMC has made several promises over the past few years to rein in unruly hawkers but allegedly not one has been implemented.

After a fire broke out in a building in Gariahat in 2019, the KMC had said hawkers would not be allowed to spread plastic sheets over their stalls.

Residents of the affected building alleged that the fire had started from an illegally drawn electric line on the footpath. Their homes on upper floors of the building were gutted as the plastic sheets helped the flames spread upward.

The KMC continued its drive against hawkers for a few days but the traders were back as soon as it stopped.

At all important intersections in Kolkata such as Gariahat, Esplanade, Hatibagan and Shyambazar, hawkers have not left any space from the crossings.

Shaktiman Ghosh, general secretary of the Hawker Sangram Committee, told this newspaper that his organisation was against encroachment of roads by hawkers. 

“We have always maintained the position that no hawker should be allowed to encroach on a road,” Ghosh said on Tuesday.

Pictures by Pradip Sanyal

Last updated on 30.05.22, 06:28 AM
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