Civic body divided over Laxmi Rd walking plaza?

The future of Laxmi Road walking plaza, which promises decongestion of footpaths, seems to be bleak. For, the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) has reportedly blinked first, climbing down from its earlier tough stance -- of not allowing any hawker on the pavements. 

Chaotic road: Temporary barricades put up at various stretches for 
pedestrians on Laxmi Road may have to be removed soon. File Pic

As the hawkers' associations, led by several Congress leaders, met Mayor Mohansingh Rajpal pressed for implementation of their 10-point charter of demands, he reportedly agreed to a few demands of the aggrieved 
vendors. This means the temporary barricades put up at various stretches to ensure pedestrians a hassle free walk down the road, might have to be removed soon, ushering hawkers' reign again. 

The Mayor's move has the NGO workers, assisting the traffic police to implement 'no parking' rules on Laxmi Road, fuming. "This clearly suggests the plan will now be scrapped as agreeing to even one demand made by hawkers means getting them back on the sidewalks.
"Hawkers are also not ready to relocate to other sites, making the issue all the more serious. After a few months, the walking plaza will surely be scrapped as parties finally succumb to the hawkers demands," said an NGO volunteer requesting anonymity. 

PMC Commissioner Mahesh Pathak, however, promised that they would chalk out a new plan for the hawker's rehabilitation. "We will hold another round of talks with the hawkers' association and resolve the issue," Pathak said. 

Mayor Mohansingh Rajpal, said, "Evicting hawkers from their traditional business place will be inhuman. They have been working there for generations and evicting them to implement an ambitious scheme will be insensitive. The administration is firm on implementing the walking plaza but only after addressing the people's issues, " he said. 

Asked if senior NCP leaders such as Ajit Pawar would be consulted on the issue, Rajpal said that the walking plaza is a city-based issue and would not require consultation at such higher levels. "Moreover he is also busy with the municipal elections in Pune and the Winter Assembly Session in Nagpur", he added. The walking plaza was implemented last month. 

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