TAMIL NADU

Encroachments removed on Long Bazaar

VELLORE, FEB. 15. The encroachments - temporary shops in the middle of the busy Long Bazaar road and the projections of shops on one side of the road - were removed in a major operation carried out jointly by the Vellore municipality with the help of the police and the revenue officials on the instructions of the Vellore Collector, A.C. Mohandoss, on Thursday and Friday.

The eviction of encroachments has been welcomed by the residents as it has paved the way for smooth flow of traffic on Long Bazaar, which forms the hub of business activity in Vellore, with the Nethaji vegetable market, groceries and hardware shops being located in this area.

Besides, vehicle-users coming from the south of Vellore have to pass through Long Bazaar to reach the Main Bazaar where the jewelleries are located and Mundy street where rice mundies are situated.

A similar eviction drive was undertaken about three years ago at the instance of the then Collector, R.Sivakumar, but the benefits from the action were short-lived since the encroachments sprang up again after a few days.

District and municipal officials have been for the last more than a decade finding it difficult to permanently evict fruit vendors and other petty businessmen including mobile vendors doing daily business in the middle of Long Bazaar because of ``political pressure and the refusal of the encroachers to move out''.

One argument which was given in favour of those who opposed the eviction was that the fruit vendors and others should be given an alternative place to carry on their business before asking them to move out.

But the vendors, especially the fruit vendors were adamant in refusing to move out on the grounds that they would not be able to earn the same income they got by doing business in Long Bazaar if they shifted to a different location, but residents say that it is a misconception of the vendors.

Once the public knew that fruits or other products would be available only in a particular place, they would definitely go there to buy their requirements, they say.

It was under these circumstances that the Collector has taken the step of removing the encroachments. It is hoped that at least this time, the district administration and the municipality would ensure that Long Bazaar was permanently rid of encroachments.

It is high time that the concerned officials, non- officials, traders' representatives and consumers' welfare organisations put their heads together to find out a permanent solution to the problem of encroachments in Long Bazaar.

New bus routes

Town buses on route numbers 1 and 2 plying between Katpadi and Bagayam will be operated via Long Bazaar from February 18, as per a decision taken at a meeting of representatives of bus owners associations, officials of the Tamil Nadu State Transport Corporation, transport department and municipal officials at Vellore on Friday.

Meanwhile, at a press conference here, the president, R.K.Ganesh Rao, and the secretary of the North Arcot District Chamber of Commerce, K.Sivakumar, alleged that shades constructed by shops for the benefit of the public and which were not encroaching on public property were also demolished as part of the eviction drive in Long Bazaar.

A meeting of the chamber is to be held here next Wednesday to discuss the problems of traders in the light of the drive and steps to be taken to ``protect the interests of the traders''.

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