PMC’s ₹27crore hawker zones lie unoccupied

Four Out Of Five Market Spaces Are Lying Idle

Five years ago, as part of a plan to rehabilitate hawkers, the Pune Municipal Corporation built five otta (platform) markets at a cost of Rs 27 crore using central government funds. Today, one of these open markets has been converted by the PMC into a ‘smart city office’ and the remaining four, are lying idle.

Hawkers’ groups allege that the PMC has bungled the entire rehabilitation process because of poor implementation of the Street Vendors (Protection of Livelihood and Regulation of Street Vending) Act, 2014. Hawkers also claim that political parties have added to the confusion by demanding spaces for party workers.

The five market zones were set up at Baner, Kharadi, Wadgaonsheri, Parvati and Wadgaon Budruk, along Sinhagad Road. But so far, the PMC has not taken any steps to rehabilitate 1,150 hawkers. Balasaheb More, the general secretary of the Hawkers’ Association, says a total of three surveys were carried out to determine genuine recipients of the rehabilitation plan.

“The central government allotted Rs 50 crore in funds for the PMC to construct hawker markets. Five markets were built at a cost of Rs 27 crore and the remaining funds still remain unutilized. Hawkers are being deprived of space in these markets despite three surveys — since 2014 — that were carried out to verify credentials of applicants. The surveys had no effect because of a dispute between the PMC’s administration and political parties. The PMC must provide spaces for genuine hawkers instead of allotting space to workers and affiliates of political parties. If the PMC commissioner takes a bold decision on the matter, the problem of allotting space in these markets will be resolved,” More says. Salma Shaikh, president of the National Association of Street Vendors in Maharashtra, says corporators lack the willpower to implement the Vendors Act.

“The civic administration does not want to legalise the business of hawkers because of vested interests. The Vendors Act says that a town Vending Committee — comprising representatives from the municipal corporation, hawkers’ groups and NGOs — must be set up to earmark special hawking zones. The Act also advised the allotment of space to hawkers within four months. But it has been threeand-a-half years and nothing has happened. Our fight for justice will continue until our business is legalized,” Shaikh says.

The president of the Janiv hawkers union, Sanjay Sankhe, says the PMC is “not interested” in expediting the matter of hawker rehabilitation in the city.

“This is evident from the the fact that the civic body has not held a town Vending Committee meeting since December 2 of last year. We are okay with relocating hawkers if their current areas of operations are experiencing congestion. But the PMC must ensure that no new hawkers are accommodated. Also, the civic body has been harassing hawkers by confiscating goods and refusing to return the items. They are doing this at the behest of political parties.”

Source : TOI