NMMC fails to tackle hawker menace
It has spent Rs2.44 cr on anti- encroachment drives in past five years
VASHI: Even as the city gears up for the smart city race, hawkers have taken over footpaths and streets in almost all nodes despite Navi Mumbai Municipal Corporation’s ( NMMC) crackdowns.
The NMMC has spent around Rs2.44crore — Rs39.96 lakh in Vashi alone — on anti-encroachment drives in the city in the past five years.
However, residents distressed by the hawker menace, particularly in Sectors 9 and 15 of Vashi, have said the NMMC’s anti- encroachment drives are only an eyewash as the hawkers return to their business soon after the drive is over.
Hawkers operating on roads and footpaths leave little room for pedestrians and lead to traffic snarls.
Mahesh Kharat, a resident of Sector 9, Vashi, said, “On seeing the NMMC anti-encroachment vehicle approaching, the hawkers flee with their items to the compounds and buildings nearby.”
“Until a few years ago, Sectors 9 and 15 had vegetable and cloth markets. Later, the vegetable market came up in Sectors 9 and 10; the cloth market remained in Sector 15,” said Pradeep Sawant, another resident.
“Now, the road next to the cloth market too has been taken over by hawkers selling vegetables. From the end of the cloth market, the hawkers have taken up both sides of the road upto Dinkar Patil Chowk. With little action being taken by NMMC, the number of these hawkers has been on the rise,” said Sawant.
He added, “The NMMC’s actions have limited impact.”
“The moment the NMMC vehicles leave, the hawkers are back to business and by the end of the day, when the market shuts, the area is full of garbage,” said Kharat.
The residents and motorists are inconvenienced by the mess. Motorists find it difficult to travel on the road leading to Kopar Khairane.
Pedestrians too have little space to walk as local shops have encroached upon the marginal space outside their premises to put up display items such as mannequins.
Vashiward officer Mahendrasingh Thoke said, “We realise the hawkers recognise our vehicles and flee with their wares only to return in a short while.”
“We have now decided to start a patrolling system to keep a regular watch. Once the plan is finalised, we will implemented it,” said Thoke.
Hawker problem is not new in the city. Foot overbridges, skywalk and footpaths have been taken over by hawkers, making the public spaces congested. Fed up of the menace, residents have blamed civic officials for looking the other way instead of taken action.
Hawkers sell clothes on the footpath in Sector 9, Vashi, leaving little space for pedestrians.
Hawkers, illegally encroaching on the footpath, sell a host of items at Sector 15, Vashi.