Mumbai: Hawker’s pitch allotment hits roadblock

Mumbai: The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation’s (BMC) plans to allot hawker pitches hit a roadblock once again following oppositions from residents and commercial establishments where the pitches are being earmarked. Civic authorities, however, claim that the allotment process has been “postponed” due to “lack of clarification and problem in the system”

Earlier this week BMC started marking hawking pitches to be allotted to the eligible hawkers. However, seeing the pitches being marked on footpaths and on right in front of their houses and shops many residents and shopkeepers have objected to the marking process. The issue was mostly raised by residents and shopkeepers in areas such as Dadar, Matunga, Mahim, Parel, where the process began last week. Not just this but even hawkers are now seeking clarification on the eligibility criteria and are demanding a new survey.

BMC’s law committee chairman and Shiv Sena corporator from Dahisar Sheetal Mhatre confirmed that the process of marking the pitches and allotting them to the hawkers has been stalled temporarily. “A special general body meeting was called on Saturday to discuss the matter of hawking pitches marking and allotments. Saturday’s meeting too has been deferred and is likely to be held on February 24,” Mhatre said.

When contacted Devendra Jain, Deputy Municipal Commissioner (DMC) for Removal of Encroachments (RE) said, “The process has been postponed for time being due to problem in the system and lack of clarifications. Even though the pitch marking is postponed temporarily, work on preparing vending certificates to be allotted to eligible hawkers and Geographic Information System (GIS) Mapping of these hawkers is going on.”

The GIS mapping will provide the civic body with every bit of detail about each of the registered hawkers in the city, including their location, name and all the biometric details at the click of a button.

According to the Street Vending Act, the BMC has to conduct a hawkers’ survey every five years and the last one was done in July 2014, thus the latest one was due in July 2019.

Of the 89,000 hawking pitches demarcated during the survey, the BMC had finalized 31,264 of them in 2018. Of the 99,435 city-based hawkers surveyed in 2014, around 17,000 were declared eligible in 2019. The civic body then extended the deadline to August 25, 2019, for the hawkers to furnish proof of their eligibility.

During this two months extension period the civic body received 2235 more applications Seven town vending committees (TVC) have to now finalize and allot the pitches to these hawkers.

It is almost five years since the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) conducted a survey of hawkers in the city, it is yet to allot hawking pitches to around 18,000 eligible hawkers. Notably, the hawkers surveyed in 2014 have not been allotted a place yet, although it is time for another survey.

The BMC was aiming to complete the allotment of hawking pitches by the end of February, however, the process might now be delayed for some more time, leading to the civic body missing its Feb-end deadline.