Shoppers, Stop!

 

One of the biggest shopping havens in the city perhaps should not exist at all. Alert citizens of Hill Road have found out, by filing a plea under the Right to Information Act, that the road is a non-hawking zone.

Hill Road is among the busiest shopping arenas in the city, with the items on sale there reflecting the hottest trends abroad and rip-offs being always in considerable demand.

In March this year, residents of Hill Road filed an application under the RTI demanding to know if the area was part of the city’s hawking zones. Hill Road has several religious places (among them the Parsi Agiary and St Peter’s Church), schools (St Stanislaus School and St Joseph’s Convent) and hospitals (Bhabha Hospital), and the rules are clear: there must be no hawkers within 150 meters of any of these places. The BMC wrote back recently, saying that the road was a non-hawking zone.

However, residents say the BMC is not too keen to implement the Supreme Court order that says all hawkers must be evicted from non-hawking zones.

They say that the recent road-widening work has also come to naught as most empty spaces have been taken up by hawkers.

 What residents say

“What’s the point of road-widening if all the space is going to be taken up by hawkers? Pedestrians have no space to walk. We want the hawkers removed immediately, they can be shifted near Rangsharada, where two big open plots exist,” said Shyama Kulkarni, a resident.

Father Gerald Rodricks of St Peter’s Church said the residents recently met the local MP Priya Dutt and civic administration officials to discuss the issue, but no action has been taken. “The road sees frequent jams because of the hawkers and BEST buses and even private vehicles find it hard to pass through. There should be a permanent solution to this perennial problem,” he stressed.

Vidhya Waide, member of the NGO ‘City Space’ said the number of hawkers is going up every day. “We have been complaining to BMC for long, but our complaints have fallen on deaf ears. Due to the nexus of corporators and civic officers, the number of hawkers is increasing.”

 What BMC says

Dr S S Kudalkar, deputy municipal commissioner (hawkers) said he would instruct the ward officer concerned to initiate action against the hawkers on Hill Road. However, he said action can be taken only in the evening, as the hawkers do not squat during the day.

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