Thiruvananthapuram

Eviction threat haunts them every day

East Fort vendors face uncertain future.

East Fort vendors face uncertain future.  

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East Fort vendors face uncertainty following bus bay plans

Shahjahan has been a constant fixture on the dilapidated footpath along the East Fort bus stand for the past three decades, ever since he came here to sell children’s clothing as a 16-year old. The changing times meant he shifted to other business, from vehicle tool kits to ear cleaning buds to mobile pouches now. But he never had to shift places, until the recent plan to evict hundreds of vendors like him to decongest the area and build a new bus bay.

“Two months ago, a group of officials and policemen came and told us about the plan to evict us. It came as a rude shock as we do not have any alternatives,” says Mr. Shahjahan. He and the other shopkeepers soon visited the Taluk Office, from where they got a temporary reprieve, but were made to sign an agreement to shift whenever the demolition work starts. “We were not offered an alternative location. We just signed it because we did not think beyond, about the future. But now, we are facing uncertainty on a daily basis, waiting for the day they will pull all these shops down,” says Thankappan Nair, who runs a newspaper vending counter here.

A majority of the commuters that The Hindu talked to said they did not have a problem with the street vendors occupying so much space, but were not happy about the state of the footpaths.

“There is really no need to evict them. If we can rebuild the bay with new slabs, then much of the problem is reduced,” says S. Priya, a college student. The plans for demolishing the bus bay, it seems, have been put on hold for the time being. “There has been opposition from several quarters against the demolition. If there is enough support, I can go ahead with it. Most of these are unauthorised encroachments, and so there is really no need to give alternative space. Only the few shops that are paying rent to the KSRTC need be relocated,” says District Collector Biju Prabhakar.

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Printable version | Jan 29, 2020 11:26:31 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Thiruvananthapuram/eviction-threat-haunts-them-every-day/article6334171.ece

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