Nagpur: For the first time in decades, the Gateway of Regal Theatre in Sitabuldi is free of encroachments by hawkers. The Nagpur Bench of Bombay High Court on Monday also upheld a decision by the Heritage Conservation Committee (HCC) to ban unlicensed hawkers within 50 meters on both sides of the grade-I heritage structure.
Ordering hearing of the writ petition filed by Nagpur Feriwala Footpath Dukandar Sanghatna and another with the PIL No. 7 of 2019, Justice Atul Chandurkar and Justice M W Chandwani, at the High Court here, have reiterated the HC’s order of February 20, 2023, passed in the said PIL — Court on its own Motion v. Union of India and Others.
The HC reproduced the direction given in the said PIL and noted that the impugned resolution passed by the Nagpur Heritage Conservation Committee on March 3, 2023, seeking declaration of an area of fifty metres on the eastern and western side of ‘Gateway of Regal Theatre’, a heritage structure, should be treated as hawker-free zone and there would be no encroachment therein, (resolution) would prevent unlicensed hawkers/street vendors, who do not possess any license from operating any business within the area mentioned in the said resolution.
However, licensed hawkers who are permitted to sell their goods and commodities at the places designated for them on the Sitabuldi Main Road, as per the licenses, they can continue to operate their business subject to exercising due care and caution of not causing any harm or damage to the GradeI heritage structure and also cooperating in its preservation in larger public interest.
Work has also started on restoring the lost glory of the Gateway, something the developer of Glocal Mall — Goel Ganga Infrastructure and Real Estate Private Limited — was to complete before obtaining part occupation certificate (OC) a year ago.
Considering the decision of the Heritage Conservation Committee (HCC) on March 3, the Nagpur Municipal Corporation (NMC) on March 13 demarcated an area of 50 meters on the eastern and western side of the heritage structure to keep hawkers out. Encroachment by hawkers was routine in and around the gateway, but the entire stretch has been free of hawkers since few days.
The hawkers’ association, Nagpur Feriwala Footpath Dukandar Sanghatna, had filed a petition in the HC requesting a stay on the HCC decision and civic body’s drive. Justices AS Chandurkar and MW Chandwani decided to hear the plea along with an earlier PIL, writing in their order, “Till both proceedings are considered together and the prayer for interim relief is considered, it is directed, without prejudice to the contentions of all parties, that the HCC’s resolution shall have restricted operation in the light of orders dated February 20, March 1 and 3 in PIL.”
The high court explained that the HCC resolution will continue so as to restrict unlicensed hawkers. However, licensed hawkers are permitted to sell their goods and commodities at the places designated for them as per the licenses, subject to exercising due care and caution of not causing any harm or damage to the heritage structure, and also co-operating in its preservation in larger public interest.
Senior counsel SK Mishra represented Goel Ganga while Kaustubh Deogade, senior counsel MG Bhangde and RM Bhangde represented the petitioners, and JB Kasat appeared for NMC, HCC and others.
Opposing the ad-interim relief, Mishra said, “Work of conservation of the heritage structure had been given to Goel Ganga, which was undertaking the same. By virtue of the interim directions issued by HC in PILs, no protection was available to the encroachers. Insofar as the vendors possessing licenses were concerned, there was no threat to them. Since the HCC’s resolution sought to protect the grade-I heritage structure, necessary steps were taken by NMC in accordance with the interim directions issued by this court. Since action was directed only against unauthorized hawkers, the wide relief sought by the petitioners was not liable to be granted and licensed vendors were already protected by the interim orders.”