Mumbai: 137 fruit vendors and BMC at loggerheads over relocation issue at Crawford market

As part of the redevelopment of 150-year-old Mahatma Jyotiba Phule Mandai (Market), popularly known as Crawford Market, BMC ousted 137 fruit vendors/ sellers after issuing them a notice to relocate their business within seven days. However, the civic body is now in a dilemma after the Bombay High Court's direction to remove the barricades and permit the fruit vendors at Crawford market to carry on their business from the original premises.

The protesting fruit sellers have questioned how they will be able to relocate the entire business in a week's time. The 137 fruit sellers then moved the court against BMC's decision. This has left the two parties at loggerheads, putting yet another hindrance to the Crawford market redevelopment project.

The BMC had ousted licensed fruit vendors from the premises to carry out redevelopment and cut off the power supply. The HC directed the BMC to restore the electricity that the civic body had disconnected to evict the licensees.

"We have been removed from the premises without any clarity on where they plan to shift us. There is no clarity on what premises we will be relocated to, what will be the size of pitches/ gala we will get getting and when will this relocation happen," said one of the fruit vendors.

The High Court has asked the BMC to refrain from acting in a "high handed" manner and to act in accordance with law.

The fruit vendors had also staged a protest on Thursday outside BMC alleging "injustice" by BMC market department officials.

"The redevelopment project needs us to clear the space. However, vendors/licensees have demands and not everyone can get relocation of their choice. Still, we are working to resolve the issue. We are now looking at possible solutions to this deadlock," said a BMC official.

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