'All hawkers with valid licenses will be rehabilitated'
Kolkata: Urban Development minister Firhad Hakim said on Wednesday that all hawkers with valid licenses will be rehabilitated and nobody will be forcibly evicted. The minister's reaction came in the wake of a drive taken in Salt lake's Karunamoyee area on Tuesday night when a number of hawkers' shops were removed in a joint raid by Bidhannagar City Police and Bidhannagar Municipal Corporation (BMC).
The minister said the government is armed with the list of legal hawkers in Bidhannagar, Salt Lake Sector V and New Town area. The list was made in a joint initiative by the police and the civic body in the year 2012.
"We are coming up with a parkomat in New Town, adjacent to which there will be a food court. All the hawkers with valid licenses will be rehabilitated in that place," Hakim said. The minister also warned Opposition parties without taking any name that the government will act tough against those who are trying to fish in troubled waters over this hawker issue in Karunamoyee. It may be mentioned that hawkers were evicted by the BMC before the Under-17 FIFA World Cup in October. Over 3,000 hawkers were driven out from various spots in the township, with a special focus on the Salt Lake stadium and its surroundings, the Broadway stretch and the roads leading to Karunamoyee.
However, they were found to be back on Salt Lake's pavements from November doing business at Karunamoyee in front of the GSI building, opposite Mayukh Bhavan and in some areas in Sector III near IA Market.
The difference is that earlier, the hawkers used to occupy the pavements by setting up bamboo structures with plastic sheets wrapped overhead. This time, they have come with cycle vans and umbrellas that would allow them to pack up and flee whenever they get a whiff that the civic authorities are conducting raids. Some days ago, a resident's forum had organised a rally and submitted a memorandum to the civic authorities too.
The Kolkata International Book Fair will also be held at Salt Lake Central Park which will see the presence of a huge number of foreign delegates. The civic body wants to ensure that there are no illegal encroachments on roads or on pavements.
A senior BMC official reiterated that no new hawkers would be allowed to encroach the pavements in Salt Lake and stated that strong action will be taken.