At the BMC standing committee meeting on Wednesday, corporators demanded that the administration make them a part of the town vending committee, which is responsible for implementing the hawkers policy in the city.
“This is a clear case of handing over a key to the thief. We have reports that license officers, instead of keeping a check on hawkers, are encouraging them. This has become a new business in the city where these officers collect money and encourage hawkers to encroach city’s footpaths,” said Asif Zakaria, corporator from the Congress.
The town vending committee comprises 35 members and is headed by the municipal commissioner. It includes citizens’ groups, hawkers’ union representatives, police and civic officials. It was formulated with an aim to identify and demarcate hawking and non-hawking zones, and grant licenses to unauthorised hawkers as part of a Supreme Court order.
The SC had also directed states to form town vending committees to survey the existing hawkers and approve licences of unauthorised ones.
There are around 3 lakh hawkers in the city, of which only 18,000 have a BMC licence. The civic administration is scrutinising details of more than two lakh illegal hawkers in the city to see who can be granted licences. The corporators also claim that as public leaders they are better equipped to understand issues faced by people.
“We have been elected by people because we are well aware of the problems they face. Hawker encroachment in the city is a major issue which is also causing a lot of trouble to pedestrians,” said Sandeep Deshmukh, group leader of MNS.
Refuting these claims, additional municipal commissioner Mohan Adtani said, “The civic officials are a part of the committee to curb corrupt practices. As per the court orders, we do not have permission to take action against existing hawkers. The committee aims to regularise the hawkers and not evict them. We understand that this is a means of livelihood for many people in the city.”