Stalls across Calcutta to be numbered for odd-even initiative
Hawkers will number their shops to adopt the odd-and-even formula for reopening from May 27, as suggested by the chief minister.
Hawkers’ union leaders met on Tuesday and decided on preventive steps to take for opening their shops.
“We will paint numbers in front of the stalls so that hawkers know which are odd-numbered and which even-numbered,” said Shaktiman Ghosh, the leader of Hawker Sangram Committee.
The hawkers will also put a thread or rope in front of their stalls so that customers do not come too close to the seller, Ghosh said. That could mean occupying more pavement space. The union also plans to draw lines so that there is distance between two buyers.
Chief minister Mamata Banerjee had said on Monday that hawkers would be able to open their stalls from May 27 but suggested that they adopt the odd-and-even formula and open on alternate days to maintain safe distance.
Corporation officials said they would meet hawkers’ unions after a couple of days. “Right now, our primary focus is on mitigating the impact of Cyclone Amphan. We will plan the reopening of hawkers’ stalls from Thursday,” an official said.
The numbering would also give an idea of the total number of hawkers in a particular area, a task that has been pending for a long time in the city.
Ghosh said there were about 2.75 lakh hawkers stalls in Calcutta. Union leaders said there were about 5,000 hawkers in and around Gariahat —between Ballygunge and Deshapriya Park and Golpark and Pantaloons and about 2,500 hawkers in Hatibagan — between Star Theatre and Shyambazar, along Bidhan Sarani.
Several Calcuttans said following distancing norms on pavements would be impossible once hawkers’ stalls are opened.
“The hawkers have occupied more than half of the width of pavements in most places. If hawkers and customers maintain distance, there will be no space for anyone to walk on the pavement,” said a Gariahat resident. “The government should issue detailed guidelines before allowing hawkers to resume business.”