Losing livelihoods, fruit vendors of Kothapet live in fear of traffic police

Citing traffic chaos, the police have been making multiple rounds of the area throughout the day and chasing away the vendors

Updated - March 28, 2024 12:06 am IST

Published - March 26, 2024 10:00 pm IST - HYDERABAD

Women vendors evicted by the traffic police huddle in a corner at Kothapet on Tuesday

Women vendors evicted by the traffic police huddle in a corner at Kothapet on Tuesday

Close to 150 fruit vendors near the Chaitanyapuri Metro Rail station are facing a harrowing time for the past 10 days as LB Nagar Traffic Police are relentless in their attempts to evict them.

Citing traffic chaos as the reason, the police have been making multiple rounds of the area throughout the day, chasing away the vendors, majority of whom are women.

While the wholesale fruit market, which had been in Kothapet earlier, was shifted to Batasingaram over two years ago, the retailers who had made the area around the footpath their unofficial market place, have nowhere to go.

“I bring the merchandise from Batasingaram market and sell it at Kothapet. There are no habitations around Batasingaram, and hence no demand,” shared G. Yadamma, a vendor.

Fruit vendors near the Chaitanyapuri Metro Rail station in Hyderabad explain the severe impact of eviction on their livelihood.

She would make her mother sit for her till she returned from the market. She was shocked to find out that the traffic police had shooed her mother away in her absence.

She said: “They have taken away two crates of apples and my wooden stool. They are doing it in the month of Ramzan when we look forward to make some profit.”

Each crate of apples costs her around ₹3000-₹4000 and she earns a profit of ₹200.

“How many crates should I sell to recover the cost of the apples taken away by the police?” she questions with a wry smile.

Majority of the vendors depend on daily finance for the working capital which adds to the financial burden.

“Every day we painstakingly set up our shop but cops arrive and ask us to dismantle everything and leave. I am a widow with children to feed. Where should I go?,” questions K. Padma, another vendor.

“The police have taken away my weighing scale, and mobile charger batteries, and are refusing to return them even after I offered to pay challan. They have even confiscated QR code holders from some vendors,” shared Mohammed Azeem, a pushcart vendor.

He still has it easy as he can push his cart into alleyways as cops approach. Those on the roadside bear the brunt.

The vendors blame the wholesale merchants for the traffic chaos. Several wholesale vendors park their trucks on the service road and make a quick buck by afternoon before the police arrive.

“Smaller vehicles of retailers crowd the trucks blocking the whole area. Instead of taking action against the trucks, the police is harassing hapless vendors who have been trading here for decades,” says Shekhar Reddy, the LB Nagar secretary of Communist Party of India (CPI).

About 70 vendors went to the Chief Minister’s camp office to air their grievance but were unable to meet him. They represented the matter to legislator D. Sudheer Reddy.

LB Nagar Traffic Inspector Jagdeesh attributed the action to several complaints received from residents of surrounding colonies.

“Most of these people are not vendors. They are deployed here by merchants from Bidar and other locations of Karnataka on a salary,” he justifies.

Thirupathi Rao, a resident of Prabhat Nagar Colony, said commuters and pedestrians are facing problems as a result of the footpath and main road being encroached by the vendors.

“The service road is fully occupied by trucks selling fruits in the morning. At night, these vendors get drunk and harass women inside the colony roads,” he claims.

Mr. Reddy said: “While most vendors have identity cards issued by GHMC, they did not know how to renew it after it lapsed in 2020. Even when they were members, they were not shown a decent place to set up their outlets at an affordable rent. The hospital coming up in the vacated premises of the fruit market was an opportunity to accommodate the vendors which got lost on the authorities.”

“When we met the GHMC zonal commissioner in charge of LB Nagar, he said he would heed us only when the vendors tie up with Swachh autorickshaws for clearance of garbage,” he added.

Zonal Commissioner in charge of LB Nagar P. Mukund Reddy did not respond to calls.

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