The first-ever draw of lots for the street vendors of Panchkula, which has already been postponed several times this month, was once again postponed Tuesday evening. While the process of documentation and verification of the listed vendors started at 9 am, the decision to cancel the actual draw came at 6 pm. The possession, which was promised for February 1, has also been delayed.
Even though the official reason given for the cancellation was that very few street vendors showed up, sources said a high drama had ensued in the administration where allegations over the way the survey had been conducted were leveled. Sources further said that an executive engineer of the MC too was given the power to conduct the draw after he was appointed as the second chairperson through a letter issued by the municipal commissioner. The official chairperson for the draw was the Joint Commissioner of Municipal Corporation, Dilbag Singh. It was only after much ado that a delegation of the town vending committee went to meet with Sumedha Kataria, MC commissioner and the decision to cancel the lots came through.
Asked about the matter, Sumedha Kataria said, “Initially, 230 people had shown up in the survey. Upon verification, we found 160 and today only 80 walked in. I think maybe the surveying person should have given ID cards to those identified. Basically, we have more than 450 sites and allotting them to only 80 people isn’t the right thing to do. Another question was whether we can get the vendors of other markets and in the second lot, the vendors not belonging to the city to this market as well. The site is all ready. But the decision is not up to me. So I decided that we will call an emergency meeting of the town vending committee, possibly in the week to decide on it.”
When asked about the letter she had sent officiating the executive engineer, Ankit Loha, she said, “Yes I had sent it but only because the joint commissioner was busy and his presence was required at the principle secretary’s office. I did not want the process to stop in any way.”
When informed that he was at the location at least from 12 am to 6 pm, she said, “Yes he must have been back by 12. I had sent the letter in the morning itself.”
Local MLA and Haryana Vidhan Sabha Speaker Gian Chand Gupta, when contacted, said he had no knowledge of the matter as he was on vacation.
Meanwhile, the street vendors, who had reached the PWD rest house for the drawing of lots, and were there all day, left the venue hopeless. One of them, who used to sell tea at the Sector 19 market, MD Hussain said, “We had expected so much. But we are again being sent out. They had promised us possession by February 1 but we don’t think we will get it anytime soon. We were also told that due to the absence of Gian Chand the MLA, we are not being given the allotment. They said they will do the lots sometime this week.”
In the first phase of the draw of lots that was supposed to happen Tuesday, of the 230 vendors belonging to Sector 19 of Panchkula, only 162 names were left in the updated list. Executive Officer Jarnail Singh, “We had sent letters to all 230 addresses for the event, of whom only as many as 162 were received while others were returned as either the addresses did not exist or the people. So we will only be allotting sites to the people who walk in today after getting their verification done.”
Of the 163, only 82 came and verified their documents.
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