Residents up ante against hawkers, but hawkers say they are not going anywhere
On Thursday, November 26, ‘A’ ward BMC encroachment officer Nutan Jadhav was threatened by Fashion Street hawkers, when conducting a raid.
Hawkers selling their wares at Colaba Causeway. Pics/Sameer Markande
This incident highlights the hawker problem in SoBo, which seems to be escalating with Colaba residents and shop owners taking on the hawkers.
Residents want hawkers be moved to a dedicated zone like Fashion Street, maybe even to Ballard Estate. Hawkers are firm that they will not stay at the Causeway. Here are two sides, hawkers vs residents, of the Colaba coin.
Honorary president, Clean Heritage Colaba Residents Association
Q. You have suggested Ballard Estate as an alternate venue for Causeway hawkers. Will you go there to buy things?
A. There is space near Electric House and YB Chavan auditorium that can be an option for a hawking plaza. People will go to these hawking spaces as they will become famous like Fashion Street or Chor Bazaar.
Q. Hawkers have been at Colaba for years now, why ask them to move now?
A. There was no problem earlier. The issue has exacerbated in the last two years, with an increase in illegal hawkers.
Q. Residents themselves buy from hawkers and now, you ask them to shift?
A. People buy from hawkers because of convenience. If they are shifted, people will go there and buy, too.
Q. What problems do hawkers pose?
A. Footpaths are taken over by hawkers, walking on the streets is tough. Hawkers are keeping their stuff at the entrance of buildings.
Salim Ansari selling sunglasses and bags at the Causeway and Prakash Bhatnagar, selling clothes, answer on behalf of the hawkers
Q. Are you open to moving to the Ballard Estate area?
A. No, it is very far. The tourists are in this area. No one goes to Ballard Estate. We are poor people. Going to Ballard Estate will be like a death sentence for us and our families.
Q. Residents allege that the BMC is pro-hawker...
A. It is a lie; the BMC has been pro-residents. They just make one call and the BMC van comes and takes away our goods. They do not even bother to check the licenses.
Q. Do all hawkers have a license?
A. Yes, we have licenses and go and renew them from the BMC. (They showed a piece of paper with a license number and a stamp from the ‘A’ ward’s BMC office dated July 2014). We pay for the license and have a right to sell on this road (They pointed to a board that says hawkers are allowed to sell wares in the area).
Q. You have been blocking space on the road as well as on the footpath. Why take away resident’s space?
A. There is a lot of space to walk; their cars are the ones that block the road.
Q. You store things in buildings at night and obstruct residents (in the stairway)?
A. Coming by taxi everyday with goods is very troublesome. None of us block their entrance, so we do not take away their space.
We pay taxes, they don’t
Haresh Hathiramani from the Colaba Merchants Association who has a garment shop at Colaba Causeway says, “We pay taxes, hawkers do not. They have encroached on a lot of space with many of them setting up illegal shops.
They block our shop entrances and as a result CCTVs get covered. The hawker outside my shop has changed five times in the last month. I doubt the licenses of many are even valid.”