The Make in India week is proving to be unlucky for some hawkers and beggars who have been swept under the carpet, away from the eyes of visitors, to give Mumbai a sanitised appearance.
Hawkers at Dadar rush to save their wares during the BMC drive
The BMC has cracked down on hawkers while the police has rounded off beggars around the city.
However, the BMC maintained that it’s a routine drive and has nothing to do with the event.
The city is hosting the first Make in India week today onwards, which will see participation from across the world. The six-day event is targeted at attracting investment for the country as well as the city.
Ambadas Kupale, a member of the Ranade Road Feriwale Sangharsh Samiti says there is a SC ruling that allows hawking 150 metres from a railway station. But the BMC does not adhere even to that.
The pet-project of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the event is being held at BKC and has organisers on over-drive, with last minute preparations. While the city has been decked up with everything beautiful, hawkers and beggars that are seen as an eyesore are being rounded up.
On Monday, the BMC cracked down on hundreds of hawkers in areas such as CST, Churchgate, Haji Ali, Worli naka, Matunga, Mahalaxmi station, Pandurang Budhkar Marg, Senapati Bapat Marg, N M Joshi Marg, Dadar station, Bandra West, Sewri station, Kurla etc. Hawkers claimed that the move was only because PM Modi was visiting the city.
Several hawkers in Bandra East’s Government Colony were also allegedly roughed up. The area outside the Collector’s Office in Bandra East sees fruits and vegetable sellers hawking their wares. On Thursday evening, the BMC cracked down on them and also warned them not to return on Friday morning. The hawkers returned because they have no alternative source of livelihood and are reluctant to sell their wares elsewhere.
Ambadas Kupale, a member of the Ranade Road Feriwale Sangharsh Samiti, said, “There is a Supreme Court ruling which allows hawkers 150 metres from a railway station. The BMC does not adhere to that. Even we have the right to livelihood. Our lives are worse than anybody else’s. I only live for my children, otherwise nobody should live this kind of life.”
Shashank Rao, President of the Bombay Hawkers’ Union said, “Make in India is to create employment and these are the self-employed. Such a crackdown is totally unjustified.”
However, Deputy Municipal Commissioner (removal of encroachment) Milind Sawant said, “This is a routine drive that was planned months in advance. We have been cracking down on hawkers since it is illegal. This is not for the Prime Minister’s visit.
Beggars rounded up
There was also a crackdown on beggars. Additional Commissioner of Police (South) Region Dr Pratap Dighavkar confirmed that the drive is on.
A senior police officer said, “The areas under the jurisdictions of Deputy Commissioner of Police Zone 1 (Colaba, Azad Maidan, Cuffe Parade, Marine Drive, MRA, Dongri, JJ Marg) and Zone 2 (Gamdevi, Malabar Hill, Pydhonie, LT Marg, DB Marg, and VP road) were cleared of hawkers and beggars in the drive that is going on for past few days.”
Another police officer said, “We have VIP guests like the UAE Prince, and other foreign leaders who are special invitees for the Make in India programme. Governors of other states and senior bureaucrats are here and we have been instructed to keep the areas free of hawkers and beggars, all this is done with an intent to keep up the image of the city.”
The inflow of beggars has seen a constant increase at the Chembur Beggar’s Home, between February 4 to February 6 . In just three days, 84 male beggars from across the city were brought.
However only 2 female beggars were brought into the women’s section.
Number of hawkers removed
F/South ward (Parel, Hindmata, BA Road): 14
G/South ward (NM Joshi Marg, Dadar East, Matunga East): 66
G/North ward (Dadar West, Matunga West): 490
L ward (Kurla): 60
The BMC officials confiscated all the fruits. When I went to reclaim them, they asked me for a fine of Rs 1,200 but no receipt was given
— Mohammed Sagir, a fruit seller, suffered losses worth more than Rs 20,000
When we go to claim it, we never get back even 25% of our stock
— Manoj Gupta, a hawker outside