Five vending zones created, will shift them soon: Commissioner
Street vendors continue to occupy major roads and pavements in the city as Srinagar Municipal Corporation (SMC) has failed to rehabilitate and relocate them despite repeated assurances, causing daily inconvenience to the commuters.
The vendors have occupied a sizeable space in major markets of the city including Batamaloo, Dalgate, Lal Chowk, Hari Singh High Street (HSHS), Qamarwari, Parimpora, Hazratbal, Jehangir Chowk and many areas of Downtown.
In some places including City centre Lal Chowk, the shopkeepers continue to encroach the pavements and roads, which not only hampers pedestrian movement but often causes traffic jams.
Abdul Rashid, a commuter at HSHS said the government should relocate these vendors as they have created mess in the city. They are responsible for traffic mess in the city interiors, he said.
“Even after being evicted by the concerned authorities several times, the vendors return to occupy the roads again and again. One fails to understand as who is backing them,” Rashid said.
Official sources at SMC said there are around 2300 vendors registered with the corporation. In 2018, SMC had a proposal to shift these vendors but they refused it and demanded permanent rehabilitation.
Muhammad Yousuf, a vendor at Amira Kadal said except for hollow promises by the authorities, nothing concrete is being done at the ground level.
“In 2017, around 100-110 vendors from Amira Kadal-HSHS zone were shifted to Chinar Vendors Market at Jehangir Chowk. After three months they left the market as no customer visited the place,” he said.
Another vendor wishing anonymity said some officers in SMC were also supporting their decision, as they allegedly take money from the vendors.
“SMC is responsible for creating mess in the city as they have no proper planning in place as compared to other cities,” he said adding that government should relocate them as soon as possible.
Earlier in 2018, SMC had approached Dehli based NGOs to assist in rehabilitating the vendors who have been impeding smooth movement of traffic in the summer capital.
A senior official at SMC told Rising Kashmir that they had clear directions both from High Court and Divisional Commissioner, Kashmir to rehabilitate the vendors as soon as possible.
On Wednesday, Divisional Commissioner Baseer Ahmad Khan held a meeting with the officials from the district administration; SMC was directed to prepare a plan for eviction and removal of street vendors from different streets in the city.
The official said, “SMC shall deploy a dedicated contingent of officials headed by the Chief Enforcement Officer who will ensure that no re-encroachment is made by the vendors after they are removed.”
The corporation was directed to use all channels of media to warn the unscrupulous elements for strict action including confiscation of their merchandise in case of violation of any kind, the official said.
He said SMC will freeze the registration process of new vendors till further orders and police will initiate action against the unregistered vendors by confiscating their goods.
SMC Commissioner, Khurshid Ahmad Sanai said they are working on the issue and have shifted the vendors to several vending zones.
“We have designated five vending zones in the city and the vendors will be shifted there soon,” Sanai said.