Calcutta civic body carves out hawking zone in Gariahat
A municipal team on Tuesday measured the pavement in front of the Traders Assembly building to carve out a 121ft hawking zone comprising a single row of 34 stalls, leaving the remaining 50ft till the four-point intersection free of encroachment.
The exercise came a day after mayor Firhad Hakim unveiled a model stall there, prototypes of which the Calcutta Municipal Corporation (CMC) has pledged to provide free to hawkers whose stalls got destroyed along with portions of the Traders Assembly building during a blaze early on January 20.
Forensic sleuths suspect the fire started in a stall in front of the building, which houses a second garments showroom called Adi Dhakeswari Bastralaya and several apartments.
Mayoral council member Baiswanor Chatterjee, who led the team that measured the pavement to carve out the newly mandatory no-hawking zone within 50ft of the Gariahat intersection, told the hawkers that only one row of stalls would be resurrected.
“A 171ft stretch along the Gariahat-bound flank of Rashbehari Avenue was damaged in the fire. There used to be 52 roadside stalls there, of which 34 were registered with the hawkers’ union. We (the CMC) will build stalls for them at no cost along a 121ft stretch,” he said.
The mayor had announced after the fire that hawkers would no longer be allowed to do business within 50 feet of busy intersections.
Chatterjee said a decision would be taken later on the 18 stalls that used to occupy the “building side of the pavement”.
His colleague Sandip Ranjan Bakshi, also the chairman of Borough X, had a discussion with leaders of the hawkers’ union to get feedback on the rehabilitation plan.
“We discussed the dimensions of the stalls that the corporation has said it will provide. The model stall that was shown to us on Monday was 6ft in length and 4ft in width. But if we have to fit 34 stalls into a 121ft span of the pavement, the length of each shop cannot be more than 3.5ft,” said Debraj Ghosh of the Gariahat Indira Hawkers’ Union.
He said the union had proposed that the width of the stall be increased to 6ft so that hawkers were not constrained by space after cutting the length down to 3.5ft.
Two rows of hawkers occupy the other pavements around the intersection, violating the rule that limits street vending to a third of the width. “Pavements in this area are not uniform in width. They vary from 8ft to 18ft. In most cases, it will be difficult to accommodate a second row of stalls on one pavement. We are trying to work out how we can accommodate these hawkers but we have not been able to find a solution yet,” Ghosh said.