A survey to identify hawkers who have encroached on roads or are occupying more than a third of the width of pavements will start in Gariahat in south Kolkata on Wednesday.
Hatibagan and New Market in north and central Kolkata, respectively, will be surveyed subsequently.
Kolkata Municipal Corporation (KMC) and police will jointly carry out the survey to find out whether there are more hawkers than the numbers registered during a survey in 2015. During the pandemic, the police stations collected data on hawkers in their respective areas.
“A survey to formally count the number of hawkers who are following or violating the one-third-footpath-occupancy rule was last conducted in 2015,” a KMC official said.
KMC and police representatives met with hawker leaders at the civic headquarters on Tuesday to fix the dates for the survey. The exercise was to start on Monday but postponed by two days.
“The survey will start in Gariahat on Wednesday, and then move to Hatibagan and finally New Market,” said a KMC official.
The footpaths in Gariahat, Hatibagan and New Market have been almost completely taken over by hawkers.
A police officer who was at the meeting at the KMC headquarters said the primary focus would be on counting the number of hawkers and assessing the way they have occupied pavements or encroached on roads. “The number of current hawkers will be compared to the 2015 data. It is apparent that there has been a rise. With this survey, we will be able to quantify the gap,” said a police officer.
Hawking and other forms of encroachment on footpaths force pedestrians to walk on roads, even at the cost of their lives or limbs. Several police officers The Telegraph spoke to said it was necessary to ensure “at least walking space” for pedestrians to protect them from road accidents.
“The hawkers who are found to be sitting with the wares on a road will be asked to pack off immediately. Those who occupy more than onethird of a pavement’s width will be asked to remain within the space specified for them,” said a senior KMC official.
The decision to keep two-thirds of the width of footpaths free was taken at a meeting of the Town Vending Committee earlier.
Debasish Das, a hawker leader who is also a member of Kolkata’s Town Vending Committee, said hawkers occupying more than one-third of a pavement’s width would be given some time to rectify themselves. “If they keep violating the rule, the committee will be forced to push them back,” he said.
The street vendors act, 2014, has empowered the committee to take key decisions on hawkers in a city.