Encroachers rule footpaths of BVK Iyengar Road

City Parking

Footpath encroachment by street vendors is a major issue where pedestrians are forced to get off sidewalks and walk in the roads causing traffic congestion

Encroachment of the footpaths of BVK Iyengar Road by street vendors is causing inconvenience to pedestrians and motorists.

BBMP engineer-in-chief M.R. Venkatesh informed The Observer: “In every ward, there is intensive checking and clearance of footpath encroachers once in a month. Since the vendors are small merchants whose survival depends on their carts, mostly we don’t penalize them. Instead, we remove the encroachments without any notice.”

The area adjoining the Chickpet Metro station is bustling with sellers of fruits, vegetables, peanuts, jewellery, mobile covers and miscellaneous items. The road has steady traffic during weekdays and is mostly congested during weekends.

M.D. Israel, who sells equipment to make muruku, said, “I have been here for 15 years. Since we do not have any permanent space, sometimes the police threaten to remove us. I don’t intend to encroach on any space. I am just here for my livelihood.”

Vishwanath Reddy, who sells western clothes and has been in the area for three years, said: “BBMP officials come once in a month to check and clear the footpaths. But even they understand that it is a matter of survival for the vendors. So mostly they don’t enforce strict removal. Instead, they ask the vendors to move to the corners so that the pedestrians have enough space.”

Mohammad Tabarah, a vendor who sells imitation jewellery, said: “We have been here for a long time. The police sometimes take a bribe of Rs.10 or Rs 20 and let us be here. Sometimes, they threaten to evict us if we do not pay a bribe. So we pay up.”

The Observer found the area crowded during weekends. Pedestrians had to get off the footpaths because their path was blocked by vendors and their customers. Vehicles have limited space to navigate. Though there are traffic policemen, they are enough to control the chaos.

Chitra Sridhar, a pedestrian, said: “I come here shopping regularly …. The street vendors have been here for more than a decade. There are no problems because of them. It is inconvenient only during weekends as there is a lot of crowd, and traffic congestion is caused due to it. There is no congestion during weekdays.”

Sameer, an urban planner, told The Observer: “Encroachment is against law and rules. It is also against the rules of town planning. But the matter is in political hands. Since bribes are involved, there is no end to the problem.”

The Street Vendors (Protection of Livelihood and Regulation of Street Vending) Act, 2014, says street vendors should maintain public hygiene and not cause damage to public property around their shops.

The Softcopy, in September 2019, reported that illegal parking caused traffic congestion in the area. People parked on the street as there was no or little space available for parking.

In June 2019, the Karnataka High Court ordered that BBMP was obligated to keep footpaths free of any form of encroachment. BBMP occasionally conducts special drives to clear footpath encroachments. The Times of India reported in May 2019 that during one such drive between April 23 and 28, 4,000 cases of footpath encroachment were booked in just six days.

shoby.k@iijnm.org

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