The civic body is currently going over the present legal status of these encroachments before launching a scathing drive. PMC officials have given assurance that these areas would be made free of encroachments to enable uninhibited movement for pedestrians and shoppers.
The civic body had razed encroachments occupying over 25-lakh square feet in and around Pune city in 2012. PMC Commissioner Mahesh Pathak officially declared that the drive would continue till all illegal constructions were removed. “Action will be taken without a second thought, as illegal structures and encroachments are creating problems and inhibiting movement of pedestrians,” Pathak had said.
Laxmi Road is one of the oldest business plazas in the city and has been around since it was developed in the 1960s. The area is dotted with garment shops and jewellery outlets and hawkers make best of the opportunity to set up stalls or display their wares at spaces set aside for parking. PMC conducted a drive to tackle the hawkers and barricaded a section of the road to enable shoppers and pedestrians to move around freely.
Vivek Kharwadkar, additional city engineer, PMC, said, “Over 125 shops on Laxmi Road are made on the parking lot area of buildings, and people have no where to park their vehicles. The area has a concentration of cloth and garment merchants. Many shopkeepers have begun using parking spaces, as well as erecting lofts, to conduct brisk business. We want to take stern action, but are currently studying the legal status as some shops had moved to the court against the PMC.”
Ramesh Shelar, head, anti-encroachment cell, PMC, said, “We have taken action against the hawkers and ready to take action against illegal shops on the road. Many shops have also illegally constructed mezzanine floors.”
While the PMC officials claim that the parking spaces have been overrun by illegal structures, shop owners in the area beg to differ. Dinesh Jain, partner, Jaihind Collections, said, “We had reconstructed our own building and made provision for parking. It is true that the space is not enough for customers visiting our shop. They can park their vehicles on Laxmi Road. As per my knowledge, there are no illegal shops occupying the parking lot.”
Phattchand Ranka, president, Pune Jewellers’ Association, said, “There is not a single shop on Laxmi Road that has been involved in erecting illegal structures or encroaching on spaces reserved for parking. There was no such parking norm announced when these buildings were constructed. We have our own parking space for our customers and staff.”
Pay and park not an option
The busy Laxmi Road is a shopper’s hub and the PMC had passed a resolution in 1992 for making ‘pay and park’ provision on the road, but shop owners in the area opposed the plan. Kunda Sane, a housewife, said, “Over 70% of the parking space on the road is occupied by shop owners and their staff. The issue has not yet been resolved, though PMC is taking stringent measures on encroachments at various other places in the city, except Laxmi Road.”