Friday, October 30, 2009

Road-side vendors lifeline of MG Road

Road-side vendors lifeline of MG Road

Bangalore: It’s hard to imagine MG Road sans the imitation jewellery, chappal shops and books strewn on the footpath for as less as Rs 20. Weekends seem incomplete without taking a stroll on the lanes, stopping at each of these way-side vendors and bargaining with them for that cute piece of earring that caught your eyes.
Around 15 to 20 vendors occupy the prime spots on the footpath along MG Road, thereby leaving little space for the pedestrians. Some of them claim they have been in the same spot for 40 years now. It is a full-time business for these Bangaloreans and, mostly, the only source of income for their families.
Naturally, none of them have an authorization from the BBMP. Most of them keep shifting their goods and hide them when either the police or BBMP patrol the streets. “There is a shed down the lane where we hide our goods when any problem arises. At night, we keep them in the basement of an apartment and the night guard keeps an eye over them,” said U Sathyan, a junk jewellery vendor, who has been running his shop there for the past 20 years. Some of them even claim to have bought the space as they have been here for many generations now! Others who are comparatively new in the business pay the maamool to the police. “We give around Rs 300 to the cops each day. Otherwise they take away our goods and we get them back only if we pay Rs 500,” said Salman Syed, who sells T-shirts on Brigade Road.
Most of them start by selling goods on the pavement. As the business grows, they set up movable stands. Though business has been running a little cold now, thanks to Metro work, MG Road is still a preferred spot as it remains busy the whole day.
“We have been receiving complaints from pedestrians that there is no enough space to walk on the footpath. A drive is already on to remove these vendors. The clearance is happening one by one all over the city. But it should be a regular process; otherwise they cannot be removed completely,” said Venkatraman Naik, additional commissioner, BBMP (east).
BBMP has also made it clear that they will not provide alternative arrangements for these vendors. “There are too many of them in Bangalore. It is not possible to accommodate all of them elsewhere,” he said.


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