Rotating Vending Zones: Bombay High Court's Idea To Get Rid Of Illegal Hawking

Rotating Vending Zones: Bombay High Court's Idea To Get Rid Of Illegal Hawking

Like odd-even parking formula, consider allowing unlicensed vendors in a particular area on a weekday, says court to BMC

Urvi MahajaniUpdated: Friday, March 15, 2024, 11:53 PM IST
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Bombay High Court | File pic

To find a workable solution to the illegal hawking menace, the Bombay High Court on Friday asked the BMC to consider rotating hawking zones – akin to odd-even parking formula – to permit unlicensed vendors in a particular area on a weekday. “This will be zoning at a second level and will take permanency out of it. Like a pop-up market. On Wednesday it will be at one place. On Thursday it will shift to another,” a bench of Justices Gautam Patel and Kamal Khata.

BMC Act has to be amended to consider hawkers

The court had taken a suo motu (on its own) cognisance of the issue, while hearing a petition by mobile shop owners in Borivali, who claimed that access to their shops was blocked by illegal hawkers in November 2022. BMC counsel SU Kamdar submitted an affidavit providing details of action taken by the civic body to address the persistent problem. The counsel said that other than levying a penalty, the municipality does not have any other option. Also, the BMC Act has to be amended to consider hawkers, who return despite removal, as repeated offenders.

The bench asked Kamdar whether the civic body has statistics of licensed and unlicensed hawkers. Kamdar replied that it has statistics of licensed hawkers and that unlicensed ones keep multiplying. The judges then asked the BMC to work out a rotating hawking zones policy. Just like odd-even parking, hawkers be permitted on one side of the lane. “If you can use Marine Drive for yoga, you can use it for other purposes. The place will be emptied the next day,” Justice Patel suggested.

"They are not vermin"

The judges were also displeased when the intervenor, Bombay Bar Association, complained about poor people living and sleeping on footpaths around Flora Fountain, and remarked that some of them are dam project-affected persons forced to live on the streets. “They are human beings. They are not vermin. They offend your delicate sensibilities? Are you in a position to provide them housing? We are dealing with licensing of hawkers and not people on the streets,” said Justice Patel.

When an advocate for a hotel opposite KEM Hospital raised the illegal hawking in the area, the judges said that they were not focussing on a localised problem. Kamdar told the court that he will put up the court’s suggestions before the BMC officials for consideration.

The court has kept the matter for hearing on March 22.

The BMC affidavit states that it is checking the feasibility of developing underground plazas/ bazaars for hawkers at certain places. Currently, the civic body is exploring the idea of constructing a subway-cum-underground hawkers plaza at Khodadad Circle (Traffic Island), Dadar TT, and at Kotwal Udyan, near Plaza Cine, Dadar West.

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