BMC, traffic cops to make 540 roads hawker-free

The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) along with Mumbai traffic police is set to create hawker-free zones on 540 listed roads in the city over the next three months.

Rahul Shewale, standing committee chairman, said the list being drawn up will include major arterial roads in the city and its eastern and western suburbs.

"BMC has been in talks with Joint Commissioner of Traffic police Vivek Phansalkar to draw up a list of roads that face traffic problem due to illegal hawking. We are going to create a plan to clean these roads through strict action. Work on this should begin next week," he said.

Deputy Municipal Commissioner Anand Wagaralkar, in charge of removal of encroachments, said the involvement of traffic police was key.

"The traffic police department has initiated the move as they also want to ease traffic problems. We will need their help for the bandobast. When they have their plan in place, we will hold a meeting with the higher authorities," he said.

On January 23, the BMC removed 765 illegal roadside vendors and collected fines to the tune about Rs 25 lakh.

Hawkers in chronic traffic bottleneck areas such as Bandra (West), Khar (West), SV Road Borivali, Dadar, Juhu, Andheri and Bhandup were evicted. The civic body, known to be at loggerheads with the state government over the issue, doubts that the new plan will be thwarted through political pressure and protests.

The Azad Hawkers' Union at a dharna at Azad Maidan last Thursday had threatened a 'Jail Bharo Andolan' if the police and the civic body did not stop its crackdown.

The union wanted speedy implementation of the hawkers' policy, which is yet to get the Centre's nod.

The new policy was formulated in 2010 after a Bombay High Court order in 2007.

It aims to regularise illegal hawking by relocating hawkers to specific zones, providing licenses and establishing operational rules.

A Tata Institute of Social Sciences survey in 2005 had identified 3 lakh unlicensed hawkers in the city.

However, Congress MLA Krishna Hegde, who has been sympathetic to the vendors' cause, said the figure had risen to 5 lakh, creating a major concern for those displaced.

BMC figures peg the registered hawkers at 23,000 as registrations were discontinued two decades ago.

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