Kashmir Indepth

Shopkeepers, Vendors occupy roads and footpaths in Srinagar

Srinagar, Dec 31, : Srinagar Municipal Corporation has been giving an open field to shopkeepers across Srinagar, who occupy 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.

   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 Javaid Ahmed.

  Javaid said he had even raised the issue with the SMC that runs a twitter handle. They had assured me of action, but till date nothing changed on ground.

   If sources are to be believed, some Ward Officers have been transferred in wake of their non-performance. An employee from SMC told news agency CNS that those Ward Officers who are not capable of delivering goods should be attached while capable officers should be assigned the duty.

   Sources said that it has become a norm for Ward Officers to sit in their cozy offices. “These Ward Officers never bother to visit the areas falling in their jurisdiction. Some Ward Officers are only using their Building Inspector to take care of the situation.”

   Reports said that the situation is very 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. Last year, Divisional Commissioner had placed two Ward Officer under suspension for not initiating any action against violators.

    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.”

   “SMC is not even honouring the court orders that had strictly directed it to stop vendors and shopkeepers from occupying footpaths.

   When contacted, a top official from SMC admitted that there is a need to strengthen Enforcement Wing of the Corporation. (CNS)

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