There is no executive or political will to remove illegal hawkers and vendors from streets and barring Lutyens' Delhi, there is no place in the city which is clear from unauthorised squatters, the Delhi High Court said on Wednesday.
Then why spare Lutyens' zone. They should be all over here. Let them be in front of the President's House, Prithviraj Road, Delhi High Court, India Gate and make it jungle. Why leave this area, we all should face it, an annoyed bench said.
A bench of Justices Vipin Sanghi and Jasmeet Singh, which has been monitoring the redevelopment work in Chandni Chowk area for several years, said it was getting a feeling of complete defeat in this matter.
If there is no political and executive will, then let it go the way it has to, why should we be bothered. We are getting a feeling of complete defeat in this matter, it said.
The bench said all street vendors must be paying their haftas' to authorities that is why they are sitting there and that is the reason the officials do not want any improvement in the situation.
The court was hearing a plea by Chandni Chowk Sarv Vyapar Mandal seeking direction to the authorities to remove illegal hawkers and vendors from the no-hawking and no-squatting area in Chandni Chowk, which has recently undergone redevelopment.
It said looking into the existing population of Delhi and huge influx in the city from all over the country, it may not be practically feasible to completely stop the activity of hawking and vending in Chandni Chowk.
People have become habituated to hawk in this area even though it is a no hawking and no vending zone. Large population is unemployed and they find it easier to hawk and vend to meet their livelihood needs."
Hawking and vending are recognised as a fundamental right. In our view, it is of utmost importance that the administration undertakes the task of preparing a street vending plan under the Street Vendors Act at the earliest so that the acts of hawking and vending can be regulated and vending seizes to be a nuisance, which it is currently, the bench said.
It said hawkers and vendors not only earn their living but make it convenient for people to buy goods at reasonable prices and they certainly have a significant role to play in the economy of the city.
Observing that regulating hawking and vending can address issues like hygiene and law and order, the bench directed the North MCD to immediately start the process of preparation of street vending plan for which the corporation should involve experts from the field of planning, including from the School of Planning and Architecture, IIT, PWD and other bodies.
The bench directed the North MCD to file a status report indicating the steps taken in this regard and made it clear that its commissioner shall be personally responsible for complying with this direction and listed the matter for hearing on December 6.
Senior advocate Sanjeev Ralli, representing the petitioner, informed the court that despite repeated directions for installation of 330 cameras, not even a single CCTV camera has been installed by the Delhi Police in the area to check encroachment in the area and pathways.
Additional standing counsel Anuj Aggarwal, representing the Delhi Police, said earlier due to the redevelopment work, cameras were not being installed. He, however, sought a week's time to take instructions on the issue of installation of CCTVs and removal of encroachment in the area.
Additional standing counsel Naushad Ahmed Khan, appearing for Delhi government, said some CCTVs have been installed by the government and he will report the exact position on the next date.
During the hearing, the bench said there was no point of removing hawkers today and they will come back tomorrow and there is a need to find out a permanent solution to the problem.
Either you all (authorities) get together and put your hands up that you can't do anything because you are ill staffed or whatever. There is a lack of will to it. Don't tell us that when the police and municipal authority want to do something and it is unable to do it. Either you sort it out or we will issue contempt notice, the bench said.
Regarding the survey which was being conducted by the Town Vending Committee (TVC) in no-hawking/no-squatting areas in Chandni Chowk, Subhash Marg and other prohibited areas of city -- Sadar Paharganj Zone -- the North MCD counsel said it has been completed.
Advocate Mini Pushkarna, appearing for North MCD, said the Act does not make any distinction between illegal or legal vendors and hawking or no hawking zone and they have to include all the vendors in the survey.
The bench said if the survey does not make any distinction between old or new, illegal or legal hawkers, why they are wasting time in this exercise.
The ground reality is that every area is hawking zone now and Luthyens' zone is the only part of Delhi which is clear from this problem, it said, adding that now even those who do not vend would be interested in getting themselves registered in the survey so that they can get the benefits out of it and there will be a surge in the number of vendors.
There are too many loose ends in the scheme and in the ground reality and too many holes in the story. The issue is that there is no executive or political will in the matter. Illegal vendors will be rewarded and relocated to other sites for not following and complying with the court orders, the bench said.
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