Street vendors, shopkeepers continue to occupy city roads, SMC in slumber

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Srinagar—The Ward Officers of Srinagar Municipal Corporation have been giving an open field to shopkeepers across Srinagar, who occupies footpaths at will to the much discomfiture of commuters.

The shopkeepers in every nook and corner of city display most of their merchandise on front portion of the shops occupying the footpath. Neither police nor SMC officials take cognizance of such illegal practices.

The situation is really horrible at prime locations including Batamallo, Lal Chowk, Hari Singh High Street, Maharaja Bazar, Gonikhan and Kokar Bazaar, Qamarwari Chowk and other areas hindering the movement of pedestrians and also causing frequent traffic jams.

Amira Kadal Bridge has been completely occupied by vendors while a stretch of road at the extreme end of Gonikhan has become virtual property of some vendors. The situation is grimmer at Maharaja Bazar. Recently, Divisional Commissioner had placed two Ward Officer under suspension for not initiating any action against violators.

“These consciousless shopkeepers and vendors choke the movement of traffic, causing inconvenience to common people. SMC is blamed for all this mess. I myself witnessed today a police party removed some vendors near LD Hospital, but as soon as the party disappeared, the vendors re-occupied the foothpath,” a local, Farooq Ahmed told news agency CNS.

Pertinently, from past couple of days, Srinagar city has been witnessing frequent traffic jams.

“It’s not only shopkeepers that have occupied footpaths, but armed forces have also blocked foothpaths at different places. The footpath leading to Polo-View from Residency Road has been blocked by CRPF stationed at State Bank of India. It’s a complete mess here,” said a renowned trader.

At Regal Chowk, some of the top businessmen have also started displaying their goods on footpaths. The foothpath is close to Kothibagh Police Station.

Qamarwari Chowk also witnesses gridlock for long time due to large number of vendors. The situation is same in Karan Nagar.

“SMC boosts of making Srinagar encroachment free only in statements but in reality the situation is totally different. The occupation of roads at Hari Singh High Street and Amira Kadal is a big slap on the Corporation and it amply shows the rotten system prevalent here.”

Government is not even honouring the court orders that had strictly directed it to stop vendors from occupying footpaths.

There are 35 Wards starting from Nagabal to Narbal and Khunmou to Sheikhpora but not a single Ward Officer cares to visit the markets. “I am from Mehjoor Nagar which is barely two kilometers away from Civil Secretariat. If you visit there, you will find all the shopkeepers have occupied the road. Some shopkeepers have even erected iron rods on roads to display their merchandize,” said Nazir Ahmed.

When contacted, Commissioner Srinagar Municipal Corporation, Reyaz Ahmed Wani said that they called representatives of vendors and shopkeepers associations and threatened them of legal action in case they continue to block roads and foothpaths. “Things will change now. We will not allow anyone to resort to illegal means,” Wani said.

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