In a major relief, nearly 500 vendors of the Lalchowk were Wednesday allowed to resume their work as the government allotted them State Road Transport Corporation yard at the city centre.
The vendors were banned by the government to work at the busy market places as they blocked footpaths and roads in the city’s commercial centre, creating traffic jams and posing trouble to the pedestrians.
From the last two weeks, the vendors, especially around Lalchowk, were without work as they had no space to put their handcarts.
However, today the Lalchowk vendors got a major relief as the government decided to allow them to work from the SRTC yard.
The move comes after the vendors held protests and the intervention of the chief minister Mehbooba Mufti and MLA Amirakdal Syed Altaf Bukhari to rehabilitate them.
This is for the first time in the last many decades that the vendors have been officially allotted space to earn livelihood. And at the same time for the first time in recent years, pedestrians have had a free walk on footpaths in Lalchowk and other market places from the last two weeks.
Pedestrian, who had been demanding for decades freeing of footpaths from encroachers, moved on footpaths without jostling for space, and applauded the government and SMC for freeing footpaths but insisted on continuity of the decision.
“It is an encouraging step from SMC as for the first time we had a free walk in the city centre. Parking of vehicles by shopkeepers and shoppers on roadsides should be banned too,” said a group of pedestrians at Tyndale Biscoe School side-walk.
MLA Amirakdal Syed Altaf Bukhari told KNS that the move is appreciable as livelihood of the poor vendors has been restored.
“I extend my heartfelt gratitude to the chef minister for her kind intervention that she allowed rehabilitation of the around 500 vendors at SRTC yard. CM was keen and concerned about these vendors,” Bukhari told KNS.
“In the next two phases, all the remaining vendors will be rehabilitated by the last week of May,” he said, appealing the vendors to maintain cleanliness of the allotted space.
“I appeal to them to do their business within the allotted space. No further encroachment of footpaths and roadsides will be allowed. Government will be strict in action with encroachers,” the senior PDP leader said.
Vendors had occupied footpaths in Lalchowk at Tyndale Biscoe School, Amirakdal Bridge, Hari Singh High Street, Maharaja Bazar, Batamaloo and other market places.
More than 2930 vendors had registered last year with the Srinagar Municipal Corporation. But the municipal body had said that it will allow and rehabilitate only those vendors who are genuine after verifying the vendors.
Commissioner SMC Bashir Ahmad Khan told KNS that on the direction of the chief minister all the registered vendors will be rehabilitated in the allocated spaces in the city.
“We have identified the land for the rehabilitation of the vendors. In first phase, vendors of Lalchowk have been allotted space at SRTC yard, where they will resume their work tomorrow. More space is being identified to rehabilitate remaining vendors of the city by May 28,” Khan told KNS.
To avoid further increase and encroachment by vendors, Khan said that the registered vendors have been given a temper-proof card for their identification and authentication. “This card will have a code which only SMC knows. It will not allow unregistered vendors to operate in the footpaths and roadsides, and also the vendors will be working at the allotted spaces only. They cannot work in other places,” he said.