Demand for special squad to tackle PCB’s illegal hawkers

No major drives have taken place this year against such vendors; matter to be taken up at PCB meeting today
While the streets of Pune Cantonment are officially supposed to be hawker-free zones, it has been decades since vendors have flourished under the lax auspices of the Pune Cantonment Board (PCB), with all kinds of wares sold at stalls dotting major roads. In fact, although residents, businessmen and others have raised this issue repeatedly with the authorities, the situation hasn’t changed at all.On Monday, however, finally fed up of the status quo, a letter was submitted by a local corporator to the chief executive officer (CEO) of PCB, demanding that a special encroachment squad now be created for Pune Cantonment to finally resolve this problem.

Priyanka Srigiri, representative from ward number 8 of PCB, said, “I have asked for an encroachment squad to carry out drives against hawkers under PCB. The squad needs a dedicated police officer and PCB staffers.We will be taking up this issue in Tuesday’s board meeting.“

Not so surprisingly, when Mirror asked for related data from PCB, it was found that no vendor’s property had been seized by authorities in January and February this year; between March and July, goods were only seized from 30 fruit vendors, 25 sharbat vendors, and around 25 sugarcane vendors by the PCB anti-encroachment wing, ignoring other popular hawkers who sell woollens, clothes, and food items. Major areas under PCB limits where illegal hawkers can be seen include Taboot Street, Bootee Street, East Street, M G Road, the area around Aurora Towers and JJ Garden, Fashion Street, Jaihind Chowk, Aabaji Maidan, Clover Centre and Empress Garden. Data indicates that there are roughly over 70 illegal vendors on MG Road, 30 around Aurora Towers, 30 around Fashion Street, more than 15 on Clover Street, 15 in Ghorpadi, 10 around Taboot Street, and more than 30 illegal vendors on East Street.

“Whenever we penalise hawkers, they always come back. There is a wellorganised mafia in this sphere. When we send teams to free up roads and pavements, anti-social elements confront our officers. Some food vendors, backed by such people, threaten and even attack our officers with hot oil. Our anti-encroachment trucks are stopped and our drivers abused,“ said S R Khandre, who heads anti-encroachment drives for PCB.

Later, he contradicted himself, saying, “There are no major encroachments in PCB areas.“

Atul Gayakwad, a representative under whose jurisdiction Fashion Street comes, said, “There is a lot of hooliganism in this area. I get repeated complaints from residents that the administration should take quick action before anything major happens.Encroachment has increased to such an extent that if a blaze was to take place, the fire brigade would not be able to help.“

Shashi Puram, a PCB resident, said, “Hawkers are a major problem for us, and nothing is being done about the problems they cause. A lot of filth is generated as a result of this illegal commercial activity on the streets.“ Said Camp resident Murtuza Poonawala, “The number of hawkers is increasing by the day. If officers find it difficult to vacate them, at least they should legalise the system with proper planning.We face many traffic issues and accidents, too.“ Anand Kochar, owner of the Atlantic General Store on MG Road and chairman of the Pune Camp Merchants Association, said, “Legal businessmen are affected by such hawkers, but the administration does nothing. For the last six months, I have seen no major drive on MG Road.“

Source : Mirror