Mumbai: Something historic is happening at Causeway, says BJP corporator

Updated: Feb 11, 2020, 07:33 IST | Hemal Ashar | Mumbai

Shop owners, locals meet as elected representatives say change has started in earnest at tourist hub

Shop owners and CMA members at the meeting on Monday. Pics/ Ashish Raje
Shop owners and CMA members at the meeting on Monday. Pics/ Ashish Raje

It was business unusual for a gathering of shop owners, members of the Colaba Merchants' Association (CMA), at Colaba's Radio Club early Monday evening. A meeting was held to discuss hawkers on Causeway, and how the new hawking policy would affect store owners and locals.

Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) corporator Makarand Narvekar said, "We have many plans for Colaba but I am convinced that the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC), Colaba Merchants' Association and residents need to come together for these plans to fructify."

He continued, "I am not against hawkers but the organisation, My Dream Colaba (MDC), has taken up the challenge to make this 'A' ward pedestrian friendly." The Colaba corporator added that the areas spanning Regal circle and the Causeway were declared heritage spots and beautification is a big part of the plan. He claimed both sides of pavements on the Causeway will be revamped "through a new technique called concrete stamping." He also said there are new light poles planned near Regal junction. He passed around a design of 'smart light poles' with a heritage look.

Hawk eye

The big question though, Narvekar acknowledged was hawking. He said, "There is a constant battle between two sets of people, (hawkers vs shop owners and locals) though both are dependent on each other. Today, licenses have been given to 67 original hawkers. We can do our best and contain those who do not have licenses. There are 67 hawkers' boxes (they store their wares) on Causeway. Have you seen such a scenario in the past? Something historic is happening on Causeway, a transformation has begun."

A number of audience members argued about how to preserve the space outside shops so that encroachments do not sprout again. From huge flower beds, to engaging private security and keeping German Shepherd dogs, different options were thrown about. While every suggestion was not practical, it was attest to the huge struggle shop owners have faced with hawkers obstructing the view of their establishment fronts, through so many years. Narvekar said, "We understand the agony of shopkeepers but one has to agree that there has been a big leap in mitigating that since the past 10 days."

 sketch of the smart light poles with a heritage look. PICS/ASHISH RAJE Sketch of the smart light poles with a heritage look

He added, "Those (hawkers) who have licenses cannot be removed as of now, they will be shifted maybe in a month or two to a designated hawking zone."

Violence looms

A resident said that hawkers who have been removed, "have been putting their boxes into the lanes of Colaba, clogging the narrow footpaths. We have been threatened with violence if we dare protest." Narvekar promised that on Tuesday morning a BMC van would pick up all the boxes. Narvekar will facilitate a meeting on Saturday to meet 'A' ward officials for a final solution to the boxes of displaced hawkers that are finding their way into different lanes. MLA Rahul Narvekar assured residents of support.

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