Squatters mar growth glow
Patna: Encroachment has eclipsed the development story in Patna.
Hawkers or stalls selling edibles on Station road, carts selling apparel and accessories at Hathwa market road, bookstalls on Ashok Rajpath, stalls selling delicacies on Boring road and carts selling vegetables at Raja Bazar are a regular scene.
The Bihar Public Land Encroachment Act (1956 & 2011) bars encroachment and under its provision violators can be imprisoned for a year or fined upto Rs 20,000 or both. But plots continue to be encroached upon by hoardings, illegally parked vehicles or vendors. "Selling clothes is easier this way," said Sunderlal, who has been vending clothes opposite Lalji Market for four years now. "We are not rich enough to raise a building and sell our stock."
Harish bhai, the owner of Uttam Chaat on Boring road, said the area has been theirs for a long time. "I recall my grandfather leaving home early to place his cart and block the place," Harish said. "And I don't think this could ever change for my son because the government never seems serious about the vending zone."
Pankaj Kumar Gaurav, an assistant engineer, Smart City, told The Telegraph: "The task force to remove squatters is in continuous action."
Abdul Hamid, the executive officer of Bankipur police circle, said: "Though the process of removing squatters is going on, it is only a temporary solution. A permanent solution for this is being sought."
PMC has taken up anti-encroachment drives in these areas many a time, but the squatters keep returning. "It is easier to find a way through moving vehicles than walk on a pavement crowded with booksellers and their buyers," said Riya, a pedestrian.
"They run away on seeing us but return few hours later," said Sanjay Kumar, a traffic police official at GPO roundabout. "Moreover, we are mere traffic police officials. There are special constables who are supposed to rid places of squatters."
Sanjay Dubey, the additional municipal commissioner, said directions had been given to executive officers of different circles regarding removal of illegal hoardings from government and private land. "Fourteen places have been finalised as vending zones for the vendors. The report is with the divisional commissioner. Vendors will soon be allotted their spots."
Residents said PMC should come up with a permanent solution soon. "Unless vendors are allotted proper space for their carts, they will continue selling their wares on the road, leading to traffic snarls," said Nitesh Sinha, whose vehicle was stuck mid-way near the bus stand at Gandhi Maidan.