SRINAGAR: Roadside vendors continue to set up pushcarts and kiosks all along the way to major hospitals in summer capital Srinagar, leaving patients and pedestrians to navigate daily traffic gridlocks and frustrating pavement hurdles.
Patients, attendants and pedestrians are concerned about the vendors who create chaos and mayhem outside the city’s hospitals, including the Shri Maharaja Hari Singh (SMHS), Chest Disease (CD), Lal Ded and GB Pant hospitals.
Dozens of vendors could be seen in front of the hospitals, occupying both roads and pavements all day, selling clothes, fruits, vegetables, toys, footwear and junk food till late evening and creating traffic jams and continual inconvenience for patients and their attendants.
In front of the GB Pant and CD hospitals, vendors could be seen from morning till the late hours of the day making obstructions for all who passed. “These vendors have narrowed the space for movement, even a person with a patient has to pass in single file,” said Syed Jeelani, an attendant at CD Hospital. “It seems like the concerned department has given them a licence to set themselves up there.”
He said that it took him more than 25 minutes with his ailing wife to park his car inside the hospital, since the road was taken up by the vendors. “Vendors strangle the movement of traffic, causing inconvenience to people,” he said.
The same is the situation in front of LD and SMHS where gatherings of hawkers could be seen presenting hurdles to patients and hospital visitors. “It seems like the concerned Srinagar Municipal Corporation is doing nothing to evacuate these vendors, especially in front of the hospitals in the city,” said Tahira Begum as she made her way through a throng of vendors in front of SMHS Hospital.
“There is no way to walk safely even on the footpaths because the vendors have occupied them; on the roads, the traffic is gridlocked as well,” she added.
Taking a more sympathetic approach, an attendant at LD Hospital, Rashid Malik, said that despite creating obstructions and traffic jams, these vendors sell their goods at lower prices than the nearby shops.
“They clear the road as soon as they see any vehicle approaching the hospital,” Malik said. “Moreover, they are less privileged people, why bother them?” he asked. “But people see things according to their own perspective. If the vendors are setting up these kiosks illegally, they should be banished,” he added.
SMC Commissioner Peerzada Haffizulla told Kashmir Reader that they have multiple times banished the vendors from around the hospitals, but they take no notice and re-occupy the space again.
“We have evacuated the vendors from several city parts, and the evacuation process is still going on. As a primary step, we will inspect the all the city hospitals’ roadside areas, and strict action will be taken,” Haffizulla assured.