No hawking zone by day, hawker paradise by night

The efforts of several Hill road residents in Bandra (W) to keep their streets hawker-free may have gone in vain, as the neighbourhood nuisances have started returning, despite the BMC having conducted a huge anti-hawking drive recently. Though the area has a ‘No hawker zone’ sign, the sign is pulled down everyday by hawkers themselves, and is put back later in the night.

Vanishing act: The ‘No-hawking zone’ sign at Hill Road, Bandra that is allegedly taken down by hawkers at around 4 pm every day and replaced in the night. Pic/ Satyajit Desai

According to officials at H-West ward office, the entire Hill road stretch is a no-hawking zone. Despite prohibition by the ward officials however, the hawkers continue to encroach upon the footpaths and roadsides of the Hill road stretch. Recently, the BMC conducted a drive in Bandra with the help of police and residents, evicting the hawkers and clearing their illegal setups.

However, just when residents thought they could breathe a sigh of relief, the hawkers slowly started trickling back to their regular spots. A ‘No hawking zone’ board has been placed by the BMC outside Gharda House near Elco market in Bandra, although it seems to serve little or no purpose. Though this board has been placed at the spot, it is actually tied to a pole using a chain and a lock. This board stands upright throughout the day till 4 pm in the evening, after which it mysteriously disappears. Once the board is no longer at that spot, hawkers gradually start setting up shop on the stretch.

MiD DAY found the board to be at the same spot on Saturday afternoon, and when we returned to the location in the evening, the board was no longer there. Even the lock and chain used to secure the board had disappeared. Later, we found hawkers at that spot, blocking the footpath and selling their goods.

A resident of the ice factory lane said, “This time, the hawkers are following a smart strategy by setting up their stalls after 5 pm in the evening when the office hours of the ward office come to an end. The board regularly disappears in the evening and is put back by the hawkers themselves at night. This clearly means that the key used to unlock the board from the pole is with one of the hawkers.”

Another resident of Hill road said, “I have seen the board disappear at around 4 pm and have seen it back on the spot late at night when the hawkers have left. I am surprised that though a BMC anti-encroachment truck remains parked on the other side of the road, nobody has actually taken notice.” Karen D'Mello, area corporator said, “The evacuation drive was conducted by BMC a few days ago, but the hawkers tend to return now and then. I have no knowledge about the board near Elco market, but I will surely look into the issue. However, we have requested the police for extra patrolling in my ward to completely rid it of the hawkers’ menace, and the police have promised complete support.”

Despite repeated attempts, Sunil Dhamne, assistant commissioner H-West ward, could not be reached for comment.

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