Police to take the lead in clearing roads

Mumbai Police top brass has decided to take the onus of evicting illegal hawkers. Instructions have been issued to police to take independent action against hawkers who crowd and dirty roads.

The decision was taken at a meeting of joint commissioners of police, regional additional commissioners and zonal deputy commissioners at the Mumbai Police headquarters in Crawford Market Wednesday.

For years, eviction drives have been lacking teeth with BMC claiming police non-cooperation.

Top cops, however, insisted the crackdown was not "sudden enthusiasm", nor was it a reaction to the January 11 incident in which 55-year-old Santacruz hawker Madan Jaiswal died during an eviction drive ordered by ACP Vasant Dhoble.

"The drive not new. It is something we have been doing for some time. Our focus is to ensure there are no encroachments or obstructions on carriageways. Illegal hawkers around railway stations are also being cleared," said joint commissioner of police (law and order) Sadanand Date. "We cannot always say it is BMC responsibility. Bombay Police Act gives us power to clean up. We have been booking hawkers under sections 102 (causing obstruction in a street) and 115 (nuisance in or near street) of the Act," said Krishna Prakash, additional commissioner of police (south).

"We are also looking at areas where hawkers sell things that spoil the aesthetics or dirty the place and cause security concern," he said.

"Arterial roads which lead to stations, important public landmarks, main roads, traffic junctions and highways have been identified where hawkers will not be allowed," said Quaiser Khalid, additional commissioner of police (east).

A total of 83 hawkers have been evicted in the eastern suburbs since Wednesday evening.

"There will be constant patrolling (to prevent the hawkers from returning)," Praveen Salunkhe, additional commissioner of police (central), said.

"We have identified 77 hawker-affected areas in the region, where we are working in tandem with civic officials. Till late Thursday evening, 210 officers and 900 constables were implementing the drive," said additional commissioner of police (west) Vishwas Nangre Patil.

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