mid-day test drive: Mumbai streets are alive with the danger of cylinders
Test drive >> Rampant use of illegal, hazardous cylinders by street vendors on the rise across city, with 5,000 cases in just the first four months of 2019
The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation's regular sweep of gas cylinders being used on footpaths seems to have failed in deterring street vendors. mid-day observed vendors in Mulund, Nahur, Bhandup, Jogeshwari and Bandra openly flouting rules by using cylinders, with some even making an effort to conceal them under jute sacks.
BMC sources said despite communication between gas supply companies, agencies and civic officials, there is no solution to contain illegal cylinders being used for roadside cooking.
Mulund West On the NS Road in Mulund, several vendors were seen cooking on the roadside. One vendor who was selling vada pav and samosas had covered his cylinder with a jute sack. Pic/Datta Kumbhar
BMC had come out with a circular in 2015 against cooking on the streets after the Bombay High Court's order in the Kelvani Mandal case, and started taking action against vendors who continued flouting rules. The civic body intensified action by launching a special drive following the City Kinara blaze the same year and followed it up after the Kamala Mills blaze in 2017. While BMC claims they are regularly acting against hawkers and seizing cylinders, cooking on the streets continues across the city in blatant defiance of norms.
A tea vendor uses a gas cylinder in the area. Pic/Datta Kumbhar
No solution in sight
According to BMC's data, 6,303 gas cylinders were seized in 2017, which increased to 9,920 in 2018. Since January, BMC has already seized 5,129 cylinders. After seizing the cylinders, they are stored at a godown in Deonar.
At a farsan store on M G Road, a cylinder has been kept horizontally on the footpath. Pic/Datta Kumbhar
Once 100 cylinders pile up there, gas companies are intimated to collect them. But this cycle is not proving to be helpful in ending the menace. Sources said BMC has repeatedly written to gas supply companies and agencies, but they have failed to come up with a solution to contain illegal cylinders being used by roadside hawkers. Sources added there is no way out of this issue because they are not able to figure out how the cylinders are ending up back in the market.
At Prabhakar Nilkanth Desai Chowk, this vada pav vendor, who cooks on the roadside, attracts quite a crowd. Pic/Nimesh Dave
'Difficult to keep tab'
A civic official said, "We have asked the companies to ensure the cylinders do not go out without proper channelling, and the agencies to check who they are giving out the cylinders to. But sometimes, it so happens that these vendors use cylinders from their homes, because of which it becomes difficult to keep a tab on them. However, we continue to carry out stringent action and seize cylinders wherever we find them." Despite repeated attempts, BMC's deputy commissioner Nidhi Choudhari remained unavailable for comment.
Several restaurants are setting up stalls on the streets and cooking there for the holy month of Ramzan. Pic/Nimesh Dave
Meanwhile, BMC's health and fire departments have also started a drive against street vendors as part of their pre-monsoon preparedness, and are seizing cylinders and shutting down stalls found flouting rules.
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