Yet another BMC-hawkers’ deadlock, things may move to court soon

Mumbai: The vendors across the city have joined hands to address the issue of getting space rightfully, else they will knock on the doors of the Bombay High Court. Mohan P Devendra, the president of All India Shramik Ekta Union (AISEU) on Wednesday said, they are going to fight a legal battle against the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation for getting an alternative space to set up their stalls.

The vendors said, after the collapse of the foot over bridge at Elphinstone Road Station (now Prabhadevi) hawkers are not allowed to set up stalls within 150 metres vicinity of the railway station. Devendra said, even if they put up stalls outside these restricted limits, the BMC officers will force them to shut down by imposing heavy fines between Rs 150-Rs 500.

A Town Vending Committee (TVC) was set up in 2014 and the objective was to maintain a dialogue between the hawkers and the BMC in order to address any issues and problems that could arise. Since its inception, the TVC has not only remained dormant, but has also spread wrong information.

In 2014, the BMC issued 1,25,000 forms to hawkers for enlisting them to the official vendors’ list and also to provide them vendors’ licences. However, out of the total forms, 99,435 forms were submitted and finally, only 15,159 forms were accepted and were given eligible status to procure the vendors’ licences. The rest of the vendors were left in lurch.

AISEU has also countered the BMC claims and said, there are actually three lakh vendors and there should more than double the number of forms supplied. In 2018, the BMC also proposed they will be setting up a new local market for these hawkers at Senapati Bapat Marg, Dadar. On the contrary the BMC has failed to to set up the market and are not taking any decision about it.

“In fact, when some of the hawkers went to the site, to conduct a survey, they alleged, the local residents protested saying the hawkers had encroached upon their residential area. The BMC refused to intervene and has been delaying the work of the proposed premises ever since,” said Devendra.

Since then, AISEU has asked the corporation to reinstate the TVC and provide licences to the workers, who are mostly senior citizens and have been in the business since over 40 years. They also demanded the corporation should provide them 3×3 square feet of space for setting up their shops. The workers are willing to pay the rent.  The Union threatened to take legal action against the BMC. “We will go to court, whatever may be the consequences,” said Devendra.

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