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‘No footpaths left to walk for Mumbaikars’

Updated on: 15 February,2024 06:58 AM IST  |  Mumbai
Prasun Choudhari |

Bombay High Court pulls up BMC, while taking suo motu cognisance of hawker menace, while also citing mid-day report

‘No footpaths left to walk for Mumbaikars’

Hawkers ply their trade on SV Road near Borivli station on February 9. Pic/Prasun Choudhari

Key Highlights

  1. Mumbai residents have moved the Bombay High Court seeking a permanent solution
  2. A Borivli resident had filed a writ petition
  3. The next hearing will be held on March 1

Fed up with illegal hawkers obstructing the city’s footpaths and roads, Mumbai residents have moved the Bombay High Court seeking a permanent solution. A Borivli resident had filed a writ petition highlighting the disruptions caused by unauthorised vendors, who endanger pedestrians across neighbourhoods. 

The high court, in 2023, while hearing the writ petition filed by the resident, Pankaj Agarwal, had stated, “We direct the registry to obtain approval from the Hon’ble Chief Justice to register a suo motu PIL (tentatively to be captioned “In Re: Pedestrian Access, Safety and Footpaths in Mumbai”) to address the questions and issues noted above. If approval is granted, this writ petition will be tagged with the PIL. Directions are to be obtained to have the PIL assigned or listed before an appropriate bench. Other directions, including appointing amicus, can then follow.”

The intervenor

Atul Vora, a Kandivli resident, said, “Bandra Reclamation Area Volunteers Association (BRAVO) and I intervened in the suo motu petition, which is based on the writ petition filed by Agarwal last year.”

Scores of vendors go about their business on SV Road in Borivli West on February 7. Pics/Nimesh DaveScores of vendors go about their business on SV Road in Borivli West on February 7. Pics/Nimesh Dave

He added, “A bench comprising Justice Gautam Patel and Justice Kamal Khata slammed the BMC while hearing the suo motu petition on February 12, stating, ‘You are forcing Mumbaikars to walk on traffic roads’.”

He continued, “The court also asked the civic body what problem was it facing in removing hawkers permanently. To our surprise, the senior lawyer had no other answer other than ‘the BMC removes hawkers. But they come and sit there again’. In response, the bench said, ‘Even after taking action, the hawkers are coming again, so don’t your officials have any permanent solution in this regard? If there is no solution, the municipal corporation should find it because there are no footpaths left for Mumbaikars to walk. Mumbaikars are forced to walk on the streets due to the presence of hawkers on the footpaths. In such a situation, if an accident occurs, who will take responsibility for it?’”

Vora said, “The court asked for suggestions as to how the hawker issue can be tackled.”

Scores of vendors go about their business on SV Road in Borivli West on February 7. Pics/Nimesh Dave

mid-day in November 2023 and on February 8 shed light on the hawker menace in Ghatkopar and Borivli respectively.

Vora told this reporter, “Justice Gautam Patel referred to mid-day’s report ‘Hawkers flood Borivli 2 weeks after eviction’ while asking the BMC to find a permanent solution.”

The next hearing will be held on March 1.

Netizens hail observations

The Bombay High Court’s observations on Monday were lauded by netizens on X, formerly Twitter.

One Sachin Dubey posted, “Bombay High Court on Monday cracked down on BMC for not removing illegal hawkers from the streets. BMC is the one forcing us to walk on already overcrowded streets by not acting on illegal hawkers. Good decision by the high court.”

A post by @_DBlackMamba alleged, “@MTPHereToHelp will penalise you for HAULTING your car outside Borivli railway station But the 3 + 3 lane is covered with hawkers on the footpaths, 2 lanes of road. This has been the case for 20 years or so. Even @mybmc ward officials are involved in this hafta vasooli (sic).”

Residents react

A Borivli resident, requesting anonymity, said, “Residents have resorted to appealing to the high court as the BMC has failed to do its duty. The civic body acts only when it is penalised by authorities, but after some time, hawkers are always back and no action is taken by the BMC. Officials are only responsible for providing licences to these hawkers but those who lack them also are freely doing business, eluding the authorities.”

Ritesh Khedekar, a Kandivli resident, told mid-day, “If the illegal hawkers could have been evicted by the BMC on the Ram Mandir consecration day, why can’t the authorities make sure the same is done on all the days throughout the year? Why is there no permanent solution to the issue? There have been many instances in the past where an emergency service vehicle could not reach its destination on time because of roads being blocked by hawkers. Who is going to take up responsibility for any loss of life during unforeseen emergency circumstances?”

Shreyas Shinde, a Borivli resident, said, “The situation at many places is dire. It seems the BMC has forgotten about the rule about having a 200-metre no-hawking zone outside railway stations. The situation is the same at Dadar, Borivli, Ghatkopar, Andheri, Kandivli, Vile Parle and Goregaon stations, among others.”

Vikhroli resident Omkar Parab had told mid-day earlier, “The common man does not know where to file complaints in such cases. Awareness is very necessary. The CM should also look into the matter if the municipal corporation fails in its duty. No political party looks into the issues faced by the common man when it comes to hawkers encroaching on footpaths and roads. This also causes severe traffic issues”

Parab said, “Around 15 per cent of the issues faced by the common man will be resolved if hawkers are removed from the area of the railway station”.
A Dadar resident said, “The situation here (Dadar) is the worst. Every morning hawkers and flowers and vegetable vendors flood the road just outside Dadar station. It seems the BMC is not concerned about at all how people feel while travelling in this mess.”


Additional Commissioner Dr Ashwini Joshi told mid-day, “We are aware of the high court’s orders. It has asked the BMC what steps we are going to take on the hawker issue. Our advocate is taking instructions from the BMC.”

Asked about what measures will be taken, she said, “According to the high court’s orders, we will be presenting our side in court.”

Year writ petition was filed

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