The Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) has taken issue with the stand one of its corporators has taken on illegal hawkers. In direct contradiction to the official party line, Samita Naik , MNS corporator from Byculla-Ghodapde, has demanded that the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) build 24 markets, one in each administrative ward, to accommodate over 5 lakh illegal hawkers, and regularise them irrespective of their domicile. On the other hand, the party policy demands that hawking licences be given only to those who have a Maharashtra domicile.
In February, MNS chief Raj Thackeray had urged his corporators to make sure that only those with Maharashtra domicile certificates be allowed to hawk on Mumbai’s streets. He had called a meeting of top corporators in the civic body and discussed the issue with them. According to a corporator, Thackeray urged his team to see to it that in the future only locals get hawking licences from the BMC.
Ignorance of policy
An MNS leader, who did not wish to be named, said that new corporators do not understand the issue or the party policy. “Before raising any issue, they should think of the party policy and not voice personal opinions in conflict with it. The corporator should withdraw her demand before it comes up for discussion in the general body meeting this month,” he said.
In her notice of motion submitted in May, Naik claimed that no railway stations, bus stops, foot over-bridges (FOB) and footpaths are left empty and every place is occupied by illegal hawkers. “The BMC should build a market in each ward to accommodate illegal hawkers in the market by charging fees, so that all roads and footpaths are free to drive and walk,” she said.
She said it is the BMC’s duty to keep roads and footpaths encroachment-free once the hawkers are shifted to the civic markets. A civic licence department official claimed that Naik’s demand was impractical. Incidentally, the BMC takes regular actions to eliminate illegal hawking. However, the footpaths fill up with stalls and encroachments a few hours after the check.
Action against unauthorised hawkers
Hawkers removed: 1.89 lakh
Fine collected: Rs 3.04 crore
Hawkers removed: 2.01 lakh
Fine collected: Rs 3.66 crore
2012-13 (up to Dec 2012)
Hawkers removed: 1.50 lakh
Fine collected: Rs 2.62 crore
Licence to hawk
As a policy, the BMC stopped issuing licences since 1970. There were 15,159 licence holders in 1970. Later, the number declined to 13,787 due to deaths and non-transference of licences to legal heirs. “Most hawkers are not domicile holders,” an official from the BMC licence department said.
The other side
Dilip Lande, MNS party leader in the BMC, was not available for comment despite several attempts to contact him.
It is a great thing if hawkers are shifted to markets. But at the same time I also feel that there is a possibility that those hawkers will erect another illegal stall on the roads and footpaths - Ishita Dhotre, Borivli
We cannot say that the roads and footpaths will be hawker-free after providing a market because all of these are hypothetical solutions - Harshit Tanna, Dahisar
According to me if the hawkers are shifted to the market, there will be a place for commuters to walk on roads and cleanliness will be maintained. Hawkers will also not have to pay rent. I also feel that new hawkers will take their place resulting in a chaotic situation again -Aruna Ghatnekar, Dadar
This is really profitable for the public, as we need space to walk. If the hawkers are shifted to the markets then commuters will get place to walk freely -Amruta RoyBardhan, Thane
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