The annual festivities for the Maha Kumbh Mela saw several livelihoods being destroyed due to demolitions
As part of a plan to organise the city in time for the Maha Kumbh Mela, major and minor construction works were undertaken in the past few months. Roads were built, repaired and widened, a flyover connecting the city of Allahabad to the Sangam area was constructed, street lights were installed on key roads, crossings were tidied up and pretty hoardings and signboards were mounted.
However, some of that came at the cost of several livelihoods. Around 500 people were rendered jobless in the heart of the city after the administration destroyed their gumtis (kiosks) --grounded to piles of rubble in most cases-- during the street widening and beautification campaign. Illegal construction and encroachment were the cited reasons.
While the administration is stating that many of these gumtis were illegal or obstructed traffic, it is to be noted that some of them existed for over a couple of decades.
Meanwhile, the gumti owners filed a writ petition seeking their immediate rehabilitation and associations and groups like the Uttar Pradesh Azad Hawkers Street Vendors Union joined the protesting gumti owners and staged dharnas for a few days in their support.
The Allahabad High Court has asked the authorities to adopt a reasonable attitude. However, no concrete solution to the issue of encroachment and vendors seems to be on the horizon.