Several nearly deserted skywalks at railway stations across the city might sport a new look if a proposal to relocate hawkers on them by the Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS) is approved by the civic body. Rachana Sansad, which is collaborating with TISS on the project, has been asked to come up with an attractive design to accommodate hawkers on skywalks.
The study, funded by the BMC, is focussed on the rehabilitation of hawkers in Mumbai and as a pilot, has been conducted in Vile Parle, Dadar and Chembur. According to estimated figures, nearly two per cent of the total population in Mumbai, that is around 2.5 lakh, earn a their living from this activity.
“The oft-repeated argument that Mumbai is crowded with hawkers is not true if we can manage and use spaces judiciously. There is enough space and it is possible to shift and relocate them, keeping in mind what they sell and the areas. At railway stations, for instance, there is a huge concentration of hawkers and that needs to be regulated. Eviction is not the answer. In Santacruz, we found that people are actually not using the skywalk. At such skywalks, we can relocate the hawkers, make the space more attractive by designing the seating and display aesthetically,” said TISS Prof Sharit K Bhowmik, who is conducting the study.
Using areas underneath the monorail to accommodate hawkers have also been suggested. The report says areas below flyovers, which are being encroached illegally by hawkers and others, can be regularised. This, says the report, will draw more people on the street and help prevent untoward incidents.
“At several places, such as Dadar station, we have seen that motorists stop to buy things from vendors, resulting in traffic woes, but hawkers are blamed for it. Interestingly, at the flower market, outside Dadar station, we have seen that hawkers have regulated themselves and operate in shifts. Such a model can be replicated elsewhere,” he said.
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The report says while hawkers are usually concentrated in certain areas that might lead to congestion, the adjoining areas can be used to spread them evenly and priority can be given to hawkers with perishable and food items, by allocating them space closest to the stations.
Another key observation is that in places such as Chembur, the hawkers operate as ‘extensions’ of shops. “Such hawkers are not genuine as they have been placed there by shopkeepers for extra income and should be removed immediately. This will help accommodate new ones. Even the footpaths close to residential areas can be used to accommodate hawkers who sell vegetables, fruits, etc. We have recommended that the BMC can do a survey in these areas, see the demand and accordingly allow vendors to operate at a specific time and for a specific duration. A similar arrangement has been made in a residential areas outside TISS in Govandi,” said Bhowmik.