Published On : Thu, May 21st, 2015

Anti-encroachment drive illegal claim shopkeepers


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Nagpur.

For the past three days, while adhering to the directive of the Nagpur Bench of Bombay High Court in the busy market area of Sitabuldi, in a joint operation of Nagpur Municipal Corporation, Police and MSEDCL, an Anti-Encroachment Drive was undertaken.

It was alleged that the shopkeepers had encroached upon public utility land and foot-paths by extending their shops by 5-10 feet and installing a collapsible metallic gate. Some had installed sign-boards and displays which extend outside the shop’s façade area.

Nagpur Today wanted to know the shopkeeper’s version of the encroachment drive.


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According to Joint Secretary of the Sitabuldi Shopkeeper’s Association Pradeep Gupta, the Anti-Encroachment Drive had only targeted the boards and the signage boards of the shops. While calling the action of Anti-Encroachment Drive as illegal, he said that notices are never given one year ago. One is usually given 48 or 72 or 96 hour’s notice. He claimed that we are never against any justified action. However, what the Anti-Encroachment Drive did was to remove those sign-boards which was wall touching. These boards are not cheap and cost almost one to two lakhs rupees. He wanted to know in what way were the sign board fixed nearly 15 feel above the ground level, obstructing the traffic.
Pradeep Gupta while speaking to Nagpur Today said that the entire action is the result of the action initiated by the Sitabuldi Trader’s Association against the road-side vendors. He said that we have been approaching the High Court for action against the street vendors who are responsible for the constriction in the road. They have been complaining that the civic authorities were not removing the vendors. So when the civic authorities received a directive of the High Court, they swung into action and targeted the shopkeepers instead of the street vendors.

Proprietor of M S Pande and Sons, Sunil Pande said that the Anti-Encroachment Drive is an act of dictatorship. Not only was the demolition unlawful but also forced act. He said that corruption is the only reason that the officials chose to act on the innocent traders and not the vendors.

Proprietor of Gaysons Brijesh Agrawal claimed that the Anti-Encroachment Drive was an unwarranted action. They targeted only the boards of the well-established shops. He added that these shopkeepers paid all the taxes, LBT etc on time yet were targeted.

Proprietor of Cloth Store, Roshan Kewalramani said that this is totally illegal. The authorities did not show any document, papers or notices (which they had allegedly issued to us) before breaking the sign boards.

Proprietor of Raymond Showroom Omprakash M also claimed that the Anti-Encroachment Drive was an unwarranted action. They targeted only the boards of the well-established shops.

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Proprietor of Hum Log Showroom Pramod Kumar Jain too claimed the same thing and said that the Anti-Encroachment Drive was an unwarranted action. They targeted only the boards of the well-established shops.

Proprietor of another readymade garment Showroom Vimal K Jain said that this the Anti-Encroachment Drive was an illegal act. The boards were not an encroachment at all.

Proprietor of Ibrahim Showroom, Naushad Ibrahim too echoed the same thing. He claimed that his board was touching the wall and not at all outside the permitted limits, yet his sign board was broken down.

Proprietor of Friends Showroom Kishan Agrawal claimed that some of the traders had gone to check the authenticity of the claims made by the civic authorities that they have issued the notices one year back. They went to the NMC Office of Dhantoli Zone under which Sitabuldi Market falls. There on questioning they found that no such notice, nor the copies or the signed copy of the notice present in the office.

Most of the traders claimed that the shopkeepers who had gone to demand the copy of the notice or the directive of the High Court to break the sign boards were beaten up. One of the shopkeeper of a Dinshaws Ice-cream parlour got so sever a lathi beatings that his right foot is fractured in three places and is hospitalized for one and half month. Many other traders including the Pape Juice Corner had to get 9-12 sutures on the palm of the hand with severe injuries.

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Another trader on condition of anonymity claimed that one of the officials who was part of the Anti-Encroachment Drive allegedly said that the foot-path vendors and hand-cart vendors collect an amount of 6 lakhs per months and give rupees three lakhs to the civic authorities and rupees three lakhs to the Sitabuldi police officials. The official is alleged to have asked what amount, do the shopkeepers pay them to prevent such action.

The traders claimed that we should soon close down our shop and start selling goods on the footpath only. This way we will save electricity land tax, LBT, Income Tax and all other statutory payments, just as the street vendors do. All that we have to pay is some protection money.

Most of the traders claimed that they were surprised at the media reports. This they realized is because the media personnel reported what was told to them by the civic authorities.

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The office-bearers of the Sitabuldi Shopkeepers Association had gone to meet the Chief Minister on May 19, 2015 in the evening. After listening to their woes, he had immediately called the Municipal Commissioner and asked him redress the shopkeeper’s problems. The Municipal Commissioner asked the shopkeepers to brief him on May 20, 2015. When the shopkeepers showed the video of the way the boards were taken down, he is alleged to have claimed that why are they breaking the sign boards? That is not encroachment was what he exclaimed. Finally he did allegedly say that the shopkeeper have been wronged. He has promised to look into the act.

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