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Gariahat hawkers seek time for new kiosks

Hawkers object to the uniform length of kiosks
The new kiosks kept on Rasbehari Avenue near the Gariahat crossing on Tuesday.
The new kiosks kept on Rasbehari Avenue near the Gariahat crossing on Tuesday.
Picture by Bishwarup Dutta

Subhajoy Roy   |   Calcutta   |   Published 06.08.19, 09:35 PM

At least 29 hawkers of Gariahat who had lost their stalls to a blaze in January were handed over new kiosks by the Calcutta Municipal Corporation on Tuesday morning.

The kiosks had to be kept on Rasbehari Avenue as hawkers said they needed time to replace the old stalls with the new ones on the footpath.

The kiosks, fitted with wheels, are of uniform size — 4ftX4ft — but the hawkers have asked the CMC to reduce the length of some and give every hawker the space they had before the blaze.

Some of the hawkers Metro spoke to said they had objected to the uniform 4ft length because many stalls were 2ft or 3ft in length.

“If all stalls are 4ft long, then those who are away from the crossing will be pushed further away,” Abhijit Saha, the working president of Gariahat Indira Hawkers’ Union, said. “There are other stalls already in those places. It will create a chaos.”

Tarak Singh, the mayoral council member who was in charge of making the steel kiosks, said the size was decided after speaking to hawkers.

Each of the kiosks cost Rs 50,000 and the corporation has borne the entire cost, Singh said.

The kiosks have been kept on Rashbehari Avenue in front of the building that houses Traders Assembly and Adi Dhakeswari Bastralaya, which were gutted in the January fire.

No date has been decided on when the hawkers would remove their existing structures and start using the kiosks.

The kiosks have been fitted with wheels for ease of movement in case of a fire or any other emergency.

“Mayor Firhad Hakim has asked me to make 100,000 kiosks for hawkers in the city. The size will depend on the width of the footpath where they will be used,” Singh said.

He said the CMC would ensure the kiosks did not take up more than one-third of footpaths.

“The kiosks were delivered on Tuesday morning. Thirty-four stalls had been gutted in the fire. The CMC has been able to make 29 stalls so far. The remaining five will be handed over later,” Saha said.

Singh, however, said the CMC had made 30 kiosks based on the report of the number of stalls gutted. “All the kiosks were lying with us for nearly two months. Today, the hawkers took 29 stalls. They can come any time and take away the other stall.”

A hawker union leader said the CMC would ensure electricity connection to the kiosks. “CESC will install meters for us,” he said.

Traders Assembly and Adi Dhakeswari Bastralaya were gutted when the blaze broke out in the landmark five-storey building in which they are housed at the Gariahat crossing in January.

The building is 80 years old and at least two flats were damaged in the fire. Residents had ran down the stairs to save themselves.

Several residents had alleged that a fire had broken out in a stall on the footpath in front of the building and then spread to the building.

Tarpaulin sheets used to cover stalls were held responsible for the flames growing big.

Last September, a portion of Bagree Market in Burrabazar was gutted in a fire. Traders had alleged that the fire had started from one of the stalls on the road in front of the building.

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