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GUWAHATI CITY

Street vendors fueling traffic congestion

Livelihood becomes hindrance in evicting the petty businessmen from beneath the flyovers across the city

GUWAHATI, June 16: It was popularly anticipated that the increased numbers of construction of flyovers in Guwahati city will reduce the road traffic congestion that has been escalating at an alarming rate for years. However, the existing flyovers have not alleviated the traffic congestion commonly seen in different junctions across the city. Unpredictable travel time delay, accidents and fatalities have still been taking a serious shape due to increased numbers of vehicles, population and more particularly, the illegal street vendors earning a livelihood beneath the flyovers.

According to a survey conducted by the Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) in 2015, following the introduction of the ‘Street Vendors’ Act, 2014’, there were around 12,000 street vendors (registered and otherwise) scattered across the city.

Talking to The Sentinel, some officials of the Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC), who monitors the parking slots for two-wheelers under the flyovers said, “Management of parking is a challenging task. Cars and bikes are parked illegally on the roadsides all along the length of the flyovers.”

It is experienced that the spaces under the flyovers in Bhangagarh, Ganeshguri, Six Mile, Ulubari, and Khanapara have not been properly mismanaged by the concerned authorities. The small patches of fenced gardens in certain portions under the flyovers are in a regretful state. Maximum areas under the flyovers are fenced off from the public.
On condition of anonymity, a street vendor at Ganeshguri flyover said, “I make sure to keep the place clean. I want a permanent spot here to earn a living. I am even ready to pay for it. Sitting here throughout the day, I honestly manage to earn the expenditure required to run my family besides the school fee for my children. Why the government should evict us from here?” However, the Ganeshguri flyover has relatively lesser number of street vendors although illegal parking is still evident.

Responding to a question, the GMC commissioner, Monalisa Goswami said, “The areas under the flyovers will only be reserved for parking.” She added that the vendors will have to eventually leave those areas and move to the vending zones as and when the zones are notified after finalization. The final decision has to be taken by the Town Vending Committee, the Police, the PWD and the Vendors’ Association. Unless they come out with a common decision, it will be difficult to set up the vending zones. “Footpaths are strictly for the commuters to walk smoothly. The vendors who occupy the footpaths will be evicted on a regular basis so that the people do not face any problems,” she said adding, “Tender has been given out multiple times for converting the areas under the flyovers into public parking, but to no avail.”

Contrary, the Vendors’ Association demanded halt of the eviction of street vendors, until alternative arrangements are in place. They also demanded re-establishment of the vending area in front of the Gauhati Medical College and Hospital (GMCH) at Bhangagarh and the re-settlement of evicted street vendors in Jalukbari. They further demanded compliance by the government and municipal authorities with the orders of the Gauhati High Court.

Anowar Ali, a tea stall owner at Ulubari Flyover said, “I have been selling tea here since 4 years to earn a livelihood. With this I run my family. I started it since I completed my graduation from Nalbari College. I was frustrated and tired of running after a job. Later, out of no choice, I started this petty business. I solemnly request the authority to consider the grievances of the unemployed youths who earns a living beneath the flyover out of no choice.”

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