OTHERS

Over 100 shops razed in MCC drive

MYSORE FEB. 15. The Mysore City Corporation (MCC) launched a "demolition drive" here today to clear the footpaths that had been encroached by bulldozing over 100 petty shops. The action followed a spate of complaints.

The drive commenced in the early hours as the gangmen of the MCC, led by the Commissioner, Jayaram, arrived at the selected spots with police protection and went on to raze the shops along Chamaraja Double Road, Adi Chunchanagiri Road, Ballal Circle, Nanjumalige, and a few outside the court premises.

The BJP activists, led by the MLA, H.S.Shankarlinge Gowda, and a few corporators staged a dharna protesting against the drive. They alleged that the authorities were adopting a partisan attitude and demolishing only encroachments in the wards controlled by the BJP. They said the N.R.Constituency was the worst affected as far as footpath encroachments were concerned and yet the MCC had turned a blind eye to it. The Mayor, B.K.Prakash, refuted the charges. He said the drive was part of the ongoing effort to beautify Mysore. Moreover, the encroachments were illegal and could not be tolerated as they hindered the free movement of pedestrians, he said.

The encroachments of footpaths had reached a high as vendors and hawkers occupied every available space in prominent areas. Even the Mysore Palace precincts was not spared. The vegetable vendors had occupied it for more than a year creating hassles to visiting tourists.

It took the authorities almost a year to muster political will and support from various political parties to evict the vendors.

The issue of footpath encroachment figured many times at the MCC meetings and those supporting the drive at the meetings have opposed it in public fearing erosion of their support base. Though the MCC promised to notify a few areas in the city as "hawkers zone'' nothing has materialised as yet.

The decision was taken during the tenure of the previous council.

The MCC had also sought a ban on issuing licences to kiosks, and petty shops, among others in key areas since the city centre had been highly congested. It was also a part of the effort to restore the beauty of the city by regulating the proliferation of petty shops. But unfortunately, the decision was ignored and the licences are issued.

The MCC often cautions road-side vendors against the sale of cut fruits in public places but it is never taken seriously. With the approach of summer fruit vendors too would be targeted in the ongoing drive.

While the demolition drive was called off around noon, the Mayor said that the eviction drive would continue in other parts of the city on Saturday also.

While welcoming the drive, a few organisations pointed out that the MCC was ignoring big businessmen and traders on Sayyaji Rao Road, Devaraj Urs Road, and Dhanvantri Road where the occupants of the shop had encroached the footpath and spread their wares.

They hoped that the authorities would penalise such people also.

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