Anantnag vendors question ‘selective’ encroachment drive

SHABIR AHMAD

ANANTNAG: The vendors in this south Kashmir town have questioned the ‘selective drive’ by the officials of Municipal Council Anantnag (MCA) against the occupation of footpaths and roadsides here.
Scores of road side vendors whose temporary stalls were seized by the MCA officials told Kashmir Reader that the officials were only acting against the “poor vendors.”
“The officials of the MCA during the past one week have removed dozens of stalls from roadsides in busy Lal chowk and Janglat Mundi markets. But they are not touching the rich shopkeepers who completely occupy the footpaths by placing goods on them,” said a delegation of vendors.
“We are poor and earn our livelihood by erecting stalls at various market places. Our families will die of starvation if authorities don’t allow us to erect the stalls,” said a fruit vendor, Nazir Ahmad.
He said that the shopkeepers don’t leave any space for pedestrians to walk on footpaths but the MCA officials don’t take action against them. “They only come and seize our stalls. If they think we are the cause of the traffic jams in market places let them identify some separate place for us so that the livelihood of our families is not affected,” said another vendor, Bashir Ahmad.
MCA executive officer Shabir Ahmad admitted that the shopkeepers occupy the footpaths causing inconvenience to the pedestrians but added that they want to go ahead with the drive in a phased manner. “The vendors occupy roadsides right from Lal chowk to Janglat Mandi which leads to messy traffic jam. Most often, the patients who are to be taken to district hospital get stuck in such jams. We have given them a space in general bus stand area but most of them come and erect stalls in Lal chowk,” EO said.
He said that after clearing the roadsides of the vendors in a first phase, they will act against the shopkeepers. “Had we acted against both at a time it would have led to law and order problem. I assure you that all the footpaths encroached by the shopkeepers will be cleared in next week,” EO said.

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