Colaba cleared of hawkers again, but only for a VIP

Written By kom nampultig on Jumat, 03 April 2015 | 22.23

MUMBAI: It seems to be turning into a routine. Hawkers are cleared from Colaba Causeway and lanes leading off it before a VIP pass-through and are allowed to return promptly afterwards.

On Thursday morning, residents woke up to find the causeway, officially Shahid Bhagat Singh Road, clear of vendors and their shack-shops. Some of the older ones reminisced it reminded them of the area decades ago before the hordes of hawkers descended on it.

The joy was short-lived, as always. They found out Prime Minister Narendra Modi was expected to pass through that part of the city. Post-afternoon, the hawkers were back.

It is all the more galling for residents as it shows a lack of willpower, not ability, on the part of the authorities to clear their choked roads.

"This is always the attitude of the authorities on any day when a VIP passes through the area. This makes us feel that as tax-paying citizens, we cannot claim to have the footpath for ourselves. Only when some VIP passes through are arrangements made to show how the area is clear of hawkers," said Pervez Cooper who lives on Henry Road.

"The BMC seems to wake up only when a VIP visits. How we wish the same efficiency is shown when the common man complains against illegal hawkers who outnumber the legitimate ones in our area," said another resident Subhash Motwani.

BMC authorities said they have been making efforts to crack down on illegal hawkers for a month now. "We have been working on realigning hawkers in the area after receiving several complaint letters from citizens. Our regular drive has been on for over a fortnight," said a senior official in A ward. Pressed about Thursday, he conceded the hawkers were cleared for the PM.
Times View
The hawker problem is a perennial problem and must be treated as such. Illegal hawkers taking up pavements is a problem that Mumbai faces day in and day out and not only when the prime minister is in town.

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