Ganesh Chaturthi is just a day away, but it seems like the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) will, yet again, be unable to mind the hawkers during the festive period. Expectedly, given the large crowds that will gather at numerous points across the city, the need of the hour is clearance of stalls across roads. Though the BMC claims that repair work on water pipelines, sewerage lines, drainage systems and roads will be carried out in the night or on holidays, areas such as Bandra, Santacruz, Andheri, Borivli, Ghatkopar and Kurla continue experiencing a wave of hawkers, especially on weekends. Worse, there seems to be a dearth of vehicles that help the BMC officials clear encroachments
In the city, only 15,159 hawkers have the requisite permissions whereas around 2.5 lakh hawkers work illegally. Special drives conducted by the BMC to clear hawkers off roads have been discontinued. A senior BMC official, on condition of anonymity, said, “The hawker menace worsens on Sundays, public holidays and during festivals. However, there is a shortage of vehicles and encroachment removal officials are off enjoying the holidays. The policy needs to review this situation and we definitely need more vehicles for the exercise. One vehicle per ward is grossly insufficient. The BMC must do better.”
Sharad Bande, license superintendent, said, "We do not give out permissions to hawkers for Ganesh Chaturthi, or any other festival for that matter -- they are all unauthorised and cleared on a regular basis by the encroachment removal team. There are about 27 vehicles that are plying in 24 wards of the city. Each ward has at least one vehicle."