MAGAM (BUDGAM): With footpaths and roadsides encroached by shopkeepers and street vendors, moving through Magam town is a nightmare for pedestrians as well as motorists.
Among all the markets of Budgam district, the worst situation is seen at Magam, where wholesale dealers, crockery sellers, and motor cycle dealers have expanded their showrooms to the middle of the road leaving a single lane for the motorists and pedestrians.
“There is no space to walk on the footpaths or roads as all the shopkeepers had displayed their goods on footpaths and the rest of the space was captured by vendors, especially on a road from Agarikalan to Police Station Magam,” said Muhammad Adil, a frequent visitor to the market.
“It is really hard to find the footpath. One has to walk on the main road. I don’t know why Municipal Committee doesn’t take any action against the encroachers,” said Talha Ahmed, another visitor.
A student from Magam degree college asked the fun of “being the gateway to tourist Gulmarg”.
“Here no one pays attention to basic necessities. How does it qualify for this tag?” He said.
Mir Bakar, a senior citizen, added that even though men somehow manage to walk on the busy narrow road, but the situation is impossible for the womenfolk, especially the ones carrying children in laps.
“We have apprised the officials many a times but nothing has improved. Their promises proved to be hollow slogans,” Bakar said.
Shabir Ahmad, an employee from Palpora, said that in late hours commuters get stuck for hours in massive traffic jam.
“The footpaths should be freed from the encroachments as it had been constructed for the pedestrians and not for vendors and shopkeepers to display their goods,” Shabir urged.
Asked why they have displayed merchandise on footpaths, Maqbool Mohammad, a shopkeeper said “to keep street vendors away from the shops”.
“Otherwise, they would block access to our shops,” he said alleging that the vendors bribe the Municipal Committee officials regularly to manage space for their stalls.
Another shopkeeper, wishing anonymity, said that the vendors cannot establish stalls without the help of the officials.
“They (Municipal Committee) have been so merciful to vendors over the last decade and have provided them a free hand to grab the roads and footpaths,” he added.
“The vendors have information about the Municipal checks in advance, so they lift their goods,” he said and added that there had been no operation against the encroachments for the past few months.
Executive Officer Municipal Committee Magam (MCM) Farooq Ahmad told Kashmir Reader that MCM was striving to remove encroachments in the town.
“We have no land to provide the vendors where they can install their carts. Once we will find some alternative land for their relocation, we will get rid of this,” he said.
He added that for the last few months, the officials have been busy with municipal polls.
“Now we have deputed the teams for the market checking,” Ahmad said. “One who will be found violating the rules will be dealt as per law”.