Delhi

NGT order may send hawkers packing

Mukesh (name changed) is a hawker who sells hosiery items in Lajpat Nagar. Due to the recent orders passed by the National Green Tribunal, he and others like him are being removed from the busy market area which sees high pedestrian footfall so as to decongest traffic and thereby reduce vehicular pollution.

Cycle rickshaws and other non-motorised vehicles are also sailing in the same boat.

Though not conversant with the laws, Mukesh knows Lajpat Nagar is a no-hawking, no-squatting area but he cannot hide his disquiet with those in power for not designating space for people like him. Similar sentiments are shared by rickshaw pullers in the area.

The NGT has in its orders extensively covered a case titled Vardhaman Kaushik vs Union of India that had directed that “no rickshaws and hawkers be permitted on the metalled road and single lane be earmarked for roadside parking on Veer Savarkar Marg, Firoz Gandhi Road and Shiv Mandir Marg.

While Delhi Police and Traders’ Association have extensively blamed hawkers and Non Motorised Vehicles (NMVs) for obstructing traffic in Lajpat Nagar, experts are of the view that approach should be to cap the number of cars rather than remove NMVs and that streets be designed with more space for hawkers and rickshaws to cut pollution.

Madhu Kishwar of Manushi Sangathan working for democratic reforms, has intervened in the case before the NGT and says, “Rickshaws are non polluting. There is no noise or air pollution. And is a vendor who sells goods from a small space and has a small bulb in the night more polluting than showrooms which run generators and cause pollution. If anything, hawkers and NMVs are least polluting occupations.”

She says "removing them is simply creating more space for cars and not easing traffic. It will subject them to more harassment."

Pradeep Sachdeva, an architect and a member of the special task force formed to explore ways to decongest traffic and reduce pollution, says, “The order of removing them is not going to solve the problem . It will rather allow more cars in the area and make matters worse.”

He says, “areas like Lajpat Nagar see more footfall and should be made pedestrian friendly and hawkers are the soul of a market area.”

On whether Lajpat Nagar can be designed in a fashion to accommodate NMVs and hawkers and vendors, Mr Sachdeva said, “Absolutely. We have a series of drawing and sketches and plans over the years and I would say any space can be designed in a fashion to include all facilities. It is a matter of equity and democratic space allocation.”

A.K. Bhattacharaya, a former director of UTTIPEC, comments that, “In overall mobility, NMVs should be encouraged by all means. Removing them is against sustainable mobility.”

He adds, “Now, when agencies concerned are making multilevel parkings as per court orders, they should reclaim streets for the pedestrians.”

Vivek Chattopadhyay of CSE’s air pollution control unit says “NMVs have to be given priority and government must come with a comprehensive plan.”

Dr. Sewa Ram of School of Planning and Architecture opines that hawkers and vendors should not be taken as encroachments. “One must see that hawkers and vendors are taking space of pedestrians and not of traffic or carriageway. Plus, their presence makes streets more secure especially in cities like Delhi.”

“Also, streets should be better designed and two- third space should be given to NMVs and one thirds to motor vehicles. We should have traffic management plan with areas where no traffic is allowed. Why can't we do that? Abroad also, spade distribution for NMVs is more."

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Printable version | Feb 27, 2021 9:56:12 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Delhi/ngt-order-may-send-hawkers-packing/article7096938.ece

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