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'For God's Sake Prepare a Street Vending Plan': Delhi HC Tells Municipal Corporation

A frustrated high court bench remarked that it is forced to pass such orders since authorities are repeatedly refusing to listen to it.
Delhi high court. Photo: PTI

New Delhi: Anybody encroaching upon public space must be removed and it cannot be permitted that the whole pavements in markets are encroached upon, leaving no space for people to walk, the Delhi high court on Monday said, asking the municipal corporation to prepare a street vending plan.

The high court also directed the Delhi Police to take steps on the installation of CCTV cameras in the Chandni Chowk area before February 28, failing which the Commissioner of the Delhi Police shall remain present before it.

“We have issued repeated directions but they are falling on deaf ears. We are compelled to pass such orders since nothing is happening. After this order, now even these officers will wake up,” a bench of Justices Vipin Sanghi and Jasmeet Singh said.

The court was hearing a plea by Chandni Chowk Sarv Vyapar Mandal seeking directions 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.

Regarding encroachment by hawkers and vendors in the area, the bench said photographs show these people are not leaving any space for people to walk and the whole pavements are covered.

“Anybody and everybody who is encroaching upon pavements must be removed, our directions are very clear. We are not asking you to carve out any exception for the members of the petitioner association. You (the North Delhi Municipal Corporation) are not understanding the problem. If you take up a (street vending) plan, this situation can be defused. So first set the ball rolling and formulate a plan,” the bench said.

Also read: For Street Vendors and Hawkers, a Litany of Failed Promises

The bench said it was trying to fill up a void which is there in the law, the Street Vendors Act, 2014 and added that it does not want all these poor people to be driven away but things have to be done in a proper manner with a plan.

“All of you are making complete mess on this law, I don’t know what is happening”, Justice Sanghi said while listing the issue of removal of illegal hawkers for January 20.

The court directed that experts be nominated from Shahjanabad Redevelopment Corporation, Delhi School of Planning and IIT Delhi immediately without any delay in the matter relating to preparation of a street vending plan.

It also asked the Delhi Police to take steps for removal of encroachers and illegal vendors from the area and directed the police and North DMC to continue with their anti-encroachment drive.

During the hearing, the counsel for North DMC informed the court that an order has been passed constituting committees in each of the zones and communications have been sent to all expert panels in relation to preparation of a street vending plan.

Senior advocate Sanjeev Ralli, representing the petitioner, submitted that despite repeated directions of the court, the Delhi Police has taken a casual approach to the issue has not yet installed 330 CCTV cameras in the area to check encroachment and pathways.

The court had earlier observed that there was no executive or political will to remove illegal hawkers and vendors from streets and barring Lutyens’ Delhi, there was no place in the city which was clear from unauthorised squatters.

(PTI)

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