New Market traders to distribute leaflets to shoppers
Traders in the New Market area will distribute leaflets containing their demands to shoppers and others on Thursday in an attempt to build opinion against encroachment of roads and footpaths by hawkers, the traders said on Wednesday.
This is the first time traders in the central Calcutta shopping hub are taking their protests against encroachment to the general public.
The leaflets say the Calcutta Municipal Corporation (CMC) and the police have to find out a solution to the problem.
On Wednesday, about 500 traders joined a march that wound its way through Lindsay Street, Bertram Street, Humayun’s Place, Chowringhee Road and returned to Lindsay Street before going past the main gate of the CMC.
“There was no slogan. We carried banners and posters that had our demands written on them. We will again organise a rally tomorrow and go to the CMC. We have written to the municipal commissioner saying we want to meet him on Thursday. We will go the CMC headquarters and try to meet him and convey our grievances to him,” said Rajeev Singh, the general secretary of the Joint Traders Federation, the umbrella body of traders at SS Hogg Market, Shreeram Arcade, Simpark Mall, Treasure Island and other markets and standalone shops in the area.
The shopowners have also planned to meet the deputy commissioner of police (central) on Friday and narrate their difficulties to him.
“We have also decided that we will distribute leaflets among the common people, shoppers and other pedestrians in the area. They must know why we are agitating and that our demands are not unjustified,” Singh said.
The traders are demanding that the administration fix the size of the dala (the space occupied to display wares) of hawkers who are allowed to do business. The ones who are barred from doing business should not be allowed to occupy any part of a road or a pavement.
They are also demanding that hawkers be barred from packing their wares in plastic and tying them to the walls of the markets at night. “If a fire breaks out at night, the plastic will fuel the flames and the markets will be destroyed,” a trader said.
Another demand is that the roads be kept free of hawkers so that ambulances, fire brigade vehicles and customers’ cars can move unhindered.
The state government had in 2018 framed hawker rules that barred hawkers from displaying their wares on a road. Violation of the rule is the norm in the New Market area. Hawkers freely display their goods by occupying parts of Bertram Street, Lindsay Street, Humayun’s Place and other roads.
A leader of the hawkers said there had been a rise in the number of mobile hawkers, who do not sit at any place but hang their wares from their neck and shoulders. “Most of the youths lost their jobs during the lockdown. But there is no increase in the number of hawkers who hawk on footpaths,” he said.
The traders, however, alleged that the numbers of hawkers on pavements and roads had increased so much that even the gates of markets and entry to standalone shops would get blocked.