In a move that could help make crowded roads hawker-free,the civic administration now plans to develop underground shopping plazas,similar to Delhis Palika Bazaar.
The proposal to construct underground shopping markets below open spaces such as gardens,which had been put forth by corporator Prakash Gangadhare,was approved at BMC general body meeting last week.
Constructing markets in underground spaces will not only solve the space-crunch issue,but also provide proper space for hawkers to sell their wares and de-congest the citys roads, said Prakash Gangadhare,BJP corporator from Mulund.
Citing the example of his ward,T-ward (Mulund),where a BMC market has been shut for the past four years,Gangadhare said,Many BMC markets are shut or underused because people want easy access to shopping,while on their way home. Such shopping zones situated below stations or gardens are frequented by people.
The city needs to be business friendly,and providing spaces for small businesses will help the economic environment of the city, he said,adding that all hawkers occupying space near railway stations,bus-stops,foot-over-bridges and subways can be accommodated in such markets.
According to BMC estimates,there are over three lakh hawkers in the city, of which only about 14,000 hawkers hold valid licences.
Following the approval of the proposal by corporators across all parties, BMC will soon begin a preliminary study of areas which could be converted into underground shopping zones. A BMC official said four gardens in Mulund had been identified for the purpose and feasibility of the project would be studied in the next few weeks.
Meanwhile,the BMCs ambitious plans to construct a walkers plaza around Crawford market and to make traffic go underground are yet to take off. Another plan by the civic administration aimed at creating underground parking space for about 3,500 cars at seven locations in South Mumbai,from Crawford Market to Regal Cinema in Colaba,was scrapped two years back.