Is the larger part of business in the second capital being run from city’s footpaths? If one scans the narrow and marked ‘Only for Pedestrians’ footpaths at any given time, he or she could find the answer to the question in a positive way.
The citizens would find every single item of business spread all over the footpaths ranging from beds of all sizes, material, sofa sets, game of cricket, general stuff, shoes, dresses or any other trade. The list may find itself abysmally shorter than the length of the footpaths. The footpath, as the word defines, is made for citizens to walk on it instead of middle of the roads. However, leave alone walking on the footpaths, even walking on broad road has become a mountainous task.
The footpaths, overflowing with all kinds of business stuff, have become a common sight in the small and major markets as well. All occupied by ever increasing encroaching vendors and, big establishments, too. Every item is stocked and sold on footpaths caring a hoot for smooth traffic, inconvenience to pedestrians, and posing accident hazards, too.
NO ANTI-ENCROACHMENT DRIVES WORTH REPORTING:
The lethargic NMC authorities, by their inaction, vis-a-vis anti-encroachment drives, have in fact, sent a positive message to the encroachers to resort to every trick of the trade and run their business empire for free (No license, no rent, no taxes).
Citizens still remember the efforts of the then Municipal Commissioner Sanjay Jaiswal in getting rid of the encroaching vendors and even big traders by sustained anti-encroachment drives and making the footpaths available for pedestrians. The present Commissioner, in his early days of the stint, carried forward the good work of Jaiswal but left it midway owing to idle subordinate staff.
Now, the situation has come to such a pass that vehicles parked bang in middle of the roads are the only items to be removed in any anti-encroachment drive. This is the nightmarish outcome of the encroached footpaths in any market area or for that matter, in any area of the city.
TIP OF ICEBERG:
On the Koradi Road, both sides of footpaths from Pagalkhana (Mental Hospital) to Mankapur Sqaure have turned in to big markets. Same is the picture of Wardha Road, Amravati Road, Bhandara Road, Umred Road, University Library to Shankar Nagar Square, and many more areas. Citizens can find decorative materials, tree saplings of great varieties, furniture, almirahs, tables, and other uncountable stuff stacked and being sold on the footpaths. However, the areas mentioned are just a tip of the iceberg. Problem is of monstrous proportion.
ROADBLOCKS TO SMOOTH TRAFFIC:
The business on footpaths has thrown the vehicles bang on the middle of the roads as the customers first line up near the footpaths, then other customers park their vehicles behind the first vehicles and the chain of vehicles then occupy the major portions of the roads. This haphazard parking is a road block to smooth traffic, and even causes accidents.
The encroachments on footpaths have come to stay unless sustained and heavy-handed drives are undertaken by the NMC, police and other concerned authorities. However, anti-encroachment drives are not only the answer to the gigantic problem. In fact, it is not answer at all. The answer lies in creating zones away from the main and regular market areas but at the suitable places for the vendors and customers as well. The answer also lies in the fixed days for roadside vendors to do business in a particular area.
However, at present, the citizens do not have any choice but to be a witness to this haphazard development.
::: Pics by Vicky Thorat
::: Ravikant Kamble