Even though the Municipal Corporation of Panchkula, after its month long anti-encroachment drive, claims to have cleared all rehri/pheris from all sectors, street vendors in Panchkula sneakily set up shop across the city, during the late evening hours.
The encroachments on several markets thrive, as vendors come up with innovative solutions to make a living.
A chinese food stall from Sector 7 has moved from the front of the market to its back, indicating the change with a flex. The stall, ‘momo point’, has found its new space inside the premises of Bharat Flour & General Mills. “This new place they park at has lesser light and has a liquor shop around,” says a girl, adding, “So we don’t like standing here for long and get it packed now.” The girl and her friends stay at a Paying Guest accommodation at the back of the market.
Another food stall, that used to line up outside the DC Model School, occupying at least a 100 meters of space, is now spotted at a corner of the market, in a ready to move food van. They sit inside the van and hand out food, all in stealth. “Earlier we used to set up a fancy stall with decorated lights and beautiful, shiny, attractive utensils. Now we have to stand in dark corners to earn a living and be ready to move at anytime. We did this so no MC official can take hold of our material”, said the stall owner, on the condition of anonymity.
Meanwhile, the vendors whose rehris were not picked off by the civic body have found shelter in the verandahs of the shops and inside the shops itself in several markets including that of Sector 7 and Sector 15.
In the Sector 7 market, a shop owner, who previously owned a cloth shop, has lent it out to as many as three vendors already. The rents vary from Rs 800 to Rs 1,500 per day, depending on the size of the table they have occupied. Hari Prakash, a soy chaap vendor, who earlier stand in the parking says, “This is better than earning nothing. Though some days we earn barely enough to take out rent and save some for ourselves. Other days are lucky.” Hari is paying Rs 1500 as rent, as he occupies the front of the shop opening. Santosh, a juice vendor stands right next to him. He has borrowed a rehri from his friend who used to repair watches earlier. The shop will soon be getting new tenants as well, as the owner has decided that that there is still some space to fill in the shop.
The per day rent is more steep for people with spots aligned to the walls of the shops, where the cost stands at Rs 2,000, and the corner shops have gained the most from it.
Anandeep shop of ice creams in a corner, has given out the space to as many as four street vendors, who are charged Rs 2,000 per day, per person.
As we tour the market, the an-encroachment officials arrive. A corner shop shuts its lights. Others, who cannot afford the luxury of renting out spots, and sell their stuff on footpath quicken their pace as they pick up their sheets end-to-end and start running away. “This is their daily routine. As soon as officials come, corner shop shuts its light and the rest get a signal,” says a person. The vendors disperse for brief moments, only to come back to the original spot and start again.
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