Footpaths of Guwahati have been grossly misused for several years now both by people who insist on setting up shops on them and by others who drive scooters and motorcycles on pavements. All over the city, there are more or less permanent shops and stalls on footpaths. This not only prevents people from using the footpaths but also ebles sellers to usurp public space for their shops without having to pay rent for the misuse of such space. What is a remarkable contradiction between the words and deeds of the Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) is that the clandestine shops and stalls on the city’s footpaths exist despite the clear instructions of the GMC (even painted on walls) that footpaths should be left clear for people to walk on and the failure of the GMC to evict the squatters from the footpaths. The simple inference to be drawn from such a fact of life is that while the official stand of the GMC is that it does not want any squatters setting up shop on the city’s pavements, there might also be an unofficial stand of some GMC officials who tacitly encourage such illegal activity because it brings them a regular under-the-table monthly income. There is also the strong possibility that it is policemen who permit this illegal economic activity to go on for a price. So what traders do not pay as rent they probably have to pay to some GMC officials or policemen as protection money. We insist on a clear statement from the GMC as to why it cannot keep our pavements free of illegal traders and one from the police as to why they tolerate this violation of the law as well as the use of pavements by two-wheeler riders in total disregard of pedestrian safety. Why are scooter riders and motorcyclists who ply their vehicles on our pavements not summarily pelized?
Misuse of City Footpaths