mid-day editorial: Bad planning will demolish BMC's credibility

Dec 29, 2017, 06:07 IST | mid-day correspondent

In its zeal to clear out hawkers from the footpaths, the BMC appears to have torn down the wire fencing marking the boundary of a residential colony in Andheri

In its zeal to clear out hawkers from the footpaths, the BMC appears to have torn down the wire fencing marking the boundary of a residential colony in Andheri. The residents say they have been left without protection, with any stranger now being able to enter the premises as and when they please. Naturally, they are fearful, as this makes them more vulnerable to crime.

The civic authorities have been bulldozing through encroachments in the city. While their motives are laudable, and this will free up the footpaths and give citizens more space to walk, these drives must have vision and not be patchwork jobs. In the Andheri case, the residents paid the price for the demolition, while the hawkers have brazenly returned to the same spot, making it an exercise in futility.

Once a footpath or area is cleared, there has to be an effort to ensure that things do not go back to what they were. Put planters, erect barriers and deploy cops or officials to patrol the area and ensure that the footpath or area remains encroachment-free.

Maybe the hawkers can be accommodated in a plaza somewhere nearby, where they can sell their wares. One needs to have a plan in place before the demolition drive takes place. The authorities must take care that they do not damage property while undertaking eviction. Uprooting fencing of residential property or other infrastructure, and then saying it comes with the territory, is inexcusable.

Eviction is a very tough task, considering how endemic this problem is. It needs great will and courage. It must also be well-planned, with the aim to enforce permanent change. Otherwise these encroachment removal measures are temporary and achieve little in the long run.

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