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Reclaiming footpaths

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Pedestrian Infrastructure
The right of the pedestrian to use the pavements unhindered is sacrosanct which has been repeatedly echoed even by the highest court of the land. But lower courts grant stay orders whenever attempts are made (though half heartedly) to remove the footpath hawkers. These stay orders go unchallenged effectively.
Relevent extracts from a posting by the Hon Sec J P Nagar 1st ph RWA on a google-group, following interactions with newly elected MLA, Sri Vijaykumar, and responses thereof:

  1. We demanded new vegetable and fruit market for the burgeoning population of JP Nagar.
  2. Footpaths are being relaid, re-relaid and re-re-re-laid every now and then. Tax payers' money goes down the drain, literally. But they are hardly available to the pedestrians to walk through unhindered. At most of the places the pavements are illegally occupied by hawkers, vegetable/fruit vendors, foodstalls, etc. and at many places they are used as parking lots by residents, marriage halls, etc. The right of the pedestrian to use the pavements unhindered is sacrosanct which has been repeatedly echoed even by the highest court of the land. But lower courts grant stay orders whenever attempts are made (though half heartedly) to remove the footpath hawkers. These stay orders go unchallenged effectively. No separate law is called for to restore the pavements to the pedestrians to whom they belong. The new Govt should come out with a policy to be followed by the local bodies and the Police.
  3. Shri Vijaykumar also promised to assist us in building a library and reading room on a CA site in our area.
GR's comment:
I am a resident of J.P.Nagar 5th phase. With regard to a fruit and vegetable market, I feel that the C.A. site opposite R.V. Dental college is a good option. I had filed an RTI with the BBMP and they told me that the site is still with the B.D.A. and hasn't been transferred to the BBMP. Actually, that C.A. site is good for a big shopping complex like the Jayanagar 4th Block complex and a fruit and vegetable market can be inside it.

My Comment:
When the roadside hawkers are beginning to buy from Reliance Fresh and such other stores, is there a need for any more 'fruit and vegetable markets' of the conventional kind.

If there's an open space, perhaps you could suggest it be converted into a 'hawking zone', and all the roadside hawkers shifted there, freeing the footpaths simultaneously.

GR's response:
Dear Mr. Muralidhar

You got me thinking. Your first statement seems to be right. But, I have still not formed any opinion on that. Regarding converting open spaces into hawking zones, all open spaces in
Bangalore and in particular, the land that I was mentioning in J.P.Nagar area are prime property worth several crores. My estimate is that the J.P.Nagar C.A. site is around Rs 15 crores! How can we allow hawkers to park themselves there? Tomorrow, they will claim legal rights to a property
that never belonged to them! I had filed an RTI asking for more information and the BBMP says that the particular C.A. site belongs to the B.D.A. The purpose of the site is yet to be ascertained. But, I am sure no open spaces should be allowed for any kind of hawking or such activities. Why should they have legal rights to a space which they have never bought? Another
issue is that if hawkers are removed from the footpath, new hawkers could start occupying the footpaths. As you may be knowing, there is a lot of unity among hawkers who are together and they have their own territories.

Should a new hawker enter their area and they will together throw him out. Now, if these original hawkers are removed and shifted to 'Hawking zones', there will be plenty of new hawkers in the wings and waiting for that chance to occupy the footpaths. They pay bribes to the police and get away!

RPC adds:
Dear All,

Land in the city is expensive and beyond the reach of the hawkers. In that context do not all automobile owners believe that they have a right to park on a public road for as long as they need unless there is a NO PARKING sign.

The problem with hawkers is not so much their blocking the road but that their customers are a danger to automobile traffic, sometimes become unruly, waste is strewn all over the place , they offer cover for unsavoury characters. On the other hand hawkers perform a useful service to a wide strata of society, bring down prices ( and the tone of the neighbourhood), and are far more amenable to legislation than shop owners. The footpaths for instance and even roads in Shivaji Nagar for instance are encroached on by better off shopkeepers. They are said to pay off the police regularly.

Singapore has found a way to control this but by means that may be unwelcome to our style of democracy. firstly registration fees for cars are very high (at one time they were equal to the original price), entry into certain districts require a special toll, hawkers are licensed and provided special places that one finds as clean as any part of the city( all towns across the
world have regulated flea markets like our gujlis) and probably the shop license is liable to be cancelled if the owner does not follow rules. Nowhere ease in the world does the local government embark on seizure to discourage street vendors or demolition to bring down encroachments.

On balance the absence of hawkers zones in cities is a lacuna in Town Planning that restricts the usage of public property to the better off. How we as active democrats fall into these traps is seen by the move in Mumbai to replace the world famous Dharavi slums by modern high rises and shopping malls.

Do we need to look beyond our personal agonies and think of where the operatives of our services live and how? I am neither an evangelist nor a Marxist but I believe that democracy means giving my neighbour the same total rights I ask for., sharing common resources and not denying living
needs of some for the comfort of others because they can pay.

If we focus only on our requirements than those who do not have a voice like slum dwellers, hawkers will look fro someone to fight for them. This is where politicians and MLAs and Councillors take up what they call a legitimate duty. If that fails these people have no choice but to take recourse to violent groups such as Naxal and Maoist groups.

Muralidhar Rao

Comments

shamalakittane's picture

We should have a few

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We should have a few shopping areas in Bangalore free from traffic, eg - Jayanagar 9th Block market, N.R. Colony. These areas can be easily made traffic free, 'coz the roads are very narrow and people come here from close by areas mainly to shop and these people can very well walk it up or cycle. And there are wider roads all around these places for Bangalore's traffic.

Its such a hassle to shop here 'coz of all the traffic and while i get the best of fresh veggies here(not wrapped in those plastic covers that look like corpses ready for a post mortem !), it would be great to have a narrow road in every area dedicated to hawkers and where people can walk free on roads. Why, we have such examples in places like HP, sure there are lots of others in India.

Places like Madiwala where the roads are wide and is one of the main connecting roads, only needs to be planned and organised well, than simply thinking of relocating them. There is ample footpath space in this road and most of it is not utilised 'coz of slush, waste strewn all over and things like that which only need some bit of managing and nothing more. Instead of the total mall out there, a complex like that of jayanagar built there for the hawkers, would have been so much more sensible.

 

With the rising space, traffic and garbage problems in bangalore...what we need is not malls like Reliance, they only add to these problems. Distributed businesses like the Hawkers need to thrive, they are less demanding on resources and much better ROI.


silkboard's picture

Road widening + encroachments - main culprits

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What is usually the first vicitm of road widening projects? Of course footpahs. Let me give you examples, as many of them as 10 minutes typing can produce and I can readily recall yesterday's outings.

1) Koramangala Inner Ring Road, drive east from Sukhsagar side to Sony World. Just before hitting Sony World junction, notice the road widening project. One, widened road will have electric poles in the middle of the "new" lane. Two) the pavements have become thinner, and thanks to minor encroachments here and there, walking will be difficult.

2) Road from Kundalahalli Gate to Varthur Lake (called Varthur Road. This road is touted as an excellent example of PPP (Mr R K Misra did an excellent job getting this road done). But, here again, the focus was on the road - a wider dual carriage road. No pavements were done, and as a result people walk on the road.

3) Marathahalli widened road. Waste of a road widening project? Ask me why. It just ate away whatever walking space was left between the road and the street vendors. Throughout the main marathahalli market area, almost everyone walks on the road now. So the road widening has basically been a waste, people walk where they used to, just that the surface is charcoal-bitumen instead of rock paved footpath.

Summary - blind road widening and encroachment by vendors are two reasons you struggle to walk around in Bangalore. And this thing contributes to traffic congestion too, as people are forced to walk on the roads.

Chennai succeeds in clearing it's hawkers

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http://www.hindu.com/2008...

silkboard's picture

Careful not to target just the hawkers

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It could get lost in protests about insensitivity towards the poor etc. Any such drive should appear 'consistent' about encroachment of all sorts. How about we list all type of pavement encroachments first? Here is a list that comes to my mind, no particular order.

  1. Street entrepreneurs aka hawkers
  2. Shops extending on to the pavement and even roads. Examples: Motor mechanics, small eateries etc.
  3. Construction spillover. All byelaws state pretty clearly that all construction material must be kept confined inside the plot where construction is happening.
  4. Parking on pavements - businesses make use of footpaths for parking. It is not just small businesses, but all types. For example, some hospitals park ambulances on the footpath. LPG gas agencies - most of them park their 3 wheelers on the footpath. And many residences do it too.
  5. BESCOM Transformers - I am not sure about this one, but I do see a lot of transformers sitting bang on the footpath blocking full width of it. I am guessing it looks so now because of the road widening projects, but just wanted to check with old timers here if this is true.
Add to the list. and lets get pictorial examples of all of these.
narayan82's picture

Land + Footpath

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When a certain establishment buys land along a road, it seemes to have the right to own the foot path as well. For example Darshinis place their "stand and eat" tables on the foorpath, even build a shelter over it! Mechanics use it as Parking for thier vehicles that need immideate repair. Temples/Religious Establishments feel the Footpath is private land! Its not just Hawkers as you suggest, its even the Bigger Establishments that seem to take advantage of footpaths.
Narayan Gopalan
User Interaction Designer
Bangalore

BESCOM transformers

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It is actually legally obligatory for apartment builders to have a transformer *inside* their properties.

But this rule is seldom followed. Although a few apartments / buildings follow this, some do not. For example, if one observes flats by M/S Renaissance Holdings in Malleswaram, we notice transformers inside their properties but if one notices M/S Soundarya Developers, in their 'Soundarya Pride' project in 7th Cross (Opp Malleswaram Co-operative Bank), they have put the transformer outside. 

murali772's picture

right 2 walk

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The Right to Walk Foundation takes its root from the shared concern that the GHMC has failed to provide the common man with a wide enough footpath; free of encroachments, stench and garbage to walk on and from the fact that to-date, there has been no clear-cut focus on problems faced by pedestrians in the city or measures to solve the same. The core issues that the Right to Walk Foundation, is being established to address are:

1) Do the citizens of India have a Right to Walk?
2) Whose responsibility is it to provide for and maintain footpaths?
3) What is the mandatory width and height of footpaths?
4) What are the steps that the GHMC takes in order to ensure that encroachments, littering and urinating on footpaths does not happen? (For example, does the GHMC take parking issues into account while issuing trade licenses?)
5) What are the facilities provided for pedestrians to cross a road?
6) What are the facilities provided for commuters to use public transport?

For more, click on

http://www.right2walk.com...

Muralidhar Rao

Muralidhar Rao
murali772's picture

footpath obstructions/ encroachments

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Here's the link to my album on the subject. I'll be keeping adding to them as I come upon fresh ones, as also if and when any rectification of the existing ones come to my notice

Muralidhar Rao

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