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Solution to illegal hawker problem is long overdue

Updated on: 19 April,2024 06:47 AM IST  |  Mumbai
The Editorial |

The robust response to this news report is a sign of just how much this resonates with people

Solution to illegal hawker problem is long overdue

Hawkers on SV Road in Borivli West on February 7. Pic/Nimesh Dave

The Bombay High Court, while hearing a suo motu PIL recently, pulled up the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) for not coming up with a viable solution to the illegal hawker matter, citing safety issues faced by pedestrians due to footpath encroachment. The robust response to this news report is a sign of just how much this resonates with people.

Justice Patel has been quoted in the report as saying that public footpaths and roads cannot be allowed to be taken over completely by vendors and that too, permanently. The court stated that there is a cascading problem as citizens are forced to walk on roads raising the very real prospect of a collision. People and cars also cause frustrating traffic jams.

The court has voiced what people have been saying for long: that the fallout of encroachment is much more serious than one can imagine. Let us use this as a turning point in the hawker scenario in the city. There has to be serious and consistent work on hawking plazas or buildings altogether. The sporadic removal of hawkers, only to see them return to the spot once again, needs to stop. Even licensed hawkers increase their space. Some even ‘sublet’ these spaces to other hawkers. At times, hawkers may have packed up for the day but boxes and wares are stowed in building corridors and footpaths. The hawker mafia is not a figment of imagination.

Everybody has a right to earn a livelihood, yet there has to be adherence to guidelines, and safety should be a priority. So, it is time for a solution so that hawkers have designated spaces, illegalities are curbed and people have space to walk. This problem has been festering for so long that cries for solutions now evoke scepticism and ridicule. Change the narrative; co-existence is laudable, but no one party should be endangered in ensuring that.

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