B.S. Ramesh

Hawkers will not be allowed on roads less than 8 m in width

BANGALORE: Bowing to pressure from several quarters and wary of a contempt petition filed in the Karnataka High Court, the State Government has finally decided to regulate and monitor hawking in all cities and towns.

The Government on March 19, 2010 issued a notification regulating hawking in the Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) limits and other urban areas and prescribing a series of measures to prevent the public and vehicle-users from being inconvenienced.

Hawkers have been a boon and a bane. While the poor and the lower-middle-class buy most of their requirements from hawkers, shopkeepers, pedestrians and motorists have been calling for regulating the trade. The main grouse is that hawkers not only occupy footpaths but even roads, inconveniencing people. Over the years, there have been repeated calls to regulate hawking but measures to control hawkers have been half-hearted, and neither the civic authorities nor the police seemed to have a clue how to tackle the issue.

A contempt petition filed before a Division Bench of Justice K.L. Manjunath and Justice B.V. Nagaratna on Monday acted as a catalyst and made the bureaucracy, led by the Chief Secretary, to draw up measures to regulate hawking.

The notification, issued by the Department of Urban Development, directs all urban local bodies to strictly adhere to the new rules. The notification says the Supreme Court judgment in the Maharashtra Ekta Hawkers Union case has been followed while stipulating the new rules that are expected to come into force shortly. The rules state that hawking will be permitted only if it does not obstruct the movement of traffic or pedestrians. Hawkers cannot use carts and they cannot trade in electronic items such as audio and video goods, cassettes and cameras. Hawkers can sell food items, cut fruits and cooked items. Hawkers can only operate on designated roads between 7 a.m. and 10 p.m. and they will have to pay a fee to the urban local body concerned. However, no hawking will be permitted on roads that are less than 8 m in width. Hawking will not be allowed in residential areas and in localities where trading and commercial activity are prohibited. Not more than one member of a family will be given a licence.

Hawking will be prohibited within 100 m of a place of worship, shrines, educational institutions or any market. There will be no hawking on footbridges and overpasses.

Soon after the Government placed the rules before the High Court, the BBMP sought at least six months' time to implement the new rules.

The Bench, however, said it would give four months' time to all urban local bodies to implement the rules, and if any local body failed to regulate hawking, it would be liable for contempt of court proceedings.