Say the sites proposed by government not an alternative
By Ishfaq Reshi
SRINAGAR: Street vendors, who have been asked to do business only at designated sites, staged a protest on Monday against the government’s policy.
The Srinagar Municipal Corporation (SMC) has embarked on a plan to identify land for rehabilitation of the street vendors who have been displaced from their traditional areas in order to decongest marketplaces and busy streets in capital Srinagar.
In the first phase of the plan, around five hundred vendors were given space at SRTC yard between two vital thoroughfares MA Road and Residency Road. The vendors from the city-centre Lal-Chowk, Jehangir Chowk and Dalgate were asked to resume their activities from the TRC yard earlier this week.
However, scores of vendors from Lal Chowk and adjacent areas held a sit-in at Jahangir Chowk against what they called “the failure of the government to rehabilitate them suitably”.
The vendors assembled at Jahangir Chowk here under the banner of All Footpath Union. They were led by the union president Mohammad Shafi, while the vendors from Lal Mandi, Hari Singh High Street, and Batmaloo areas also joined them.
The protesters were accompanied by their families. They were holding banners, placards, and black flags, and were shouting anti-government slogans.
The protesters told Kashmir Reader that they have been rendered jobless by the government’s move.
They said they support the efforts of the authorities for ensuring smooth movement of traffic, but “our concern is that we must be provided suitable place to earn our livelihood”.
“The state administration has proposed SRTC Yard for displaced Lal Chowk vendors, Sector 7 Batamaloo for vendors at Batmaloo, and Farmyard and for the street vendors of Lal Mandi,” they said.
“But these locations are not suitable as the public doesn’t mostly visit these locations,” they said.
The protesters said most of them were sole breadwinners for their families.
“Preventing us from doing business is an anti-social move,” they said. “With such a kind of approach, we will be rendered jobless forever.”
They appealed the chief minister to intervene into the matter and redress their grievances.
They, however, threatened more protests if their demands were not looked into.
Commissioner Srinagar Municipal Corporation, Bashir Ahmad Khan, could not be reached for comments.