The vendors are relocated as part of the Charminar Pedestrianization Project (CPP) taken up by the Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC).

Hawkers near Charminar stuck in vicious cycle of relocations and forced returnsAll Images: Gautam Bharadwaj
news Civic Issues Wednesday, May 08, 2019 - 13:49
Written by  Gautam Bharadwaj

Raju, a hawker in his 30s, who sells fruits on the road next to Charminar, is dejected. He says that he will soon be forced to relocate his stall. “Now that Ramzan season has started, we will be forced to move away by the police here. The places we move to are terrible for business and where I would have earned Rs 500 in a day, I will only get Rs 150,” he says.

Raju is one of many hawkers in the area around Charminar, which is crowded with dozens of hawkers selling various items – from soda to imitation jewellery – and even though they have returned, many of them will be forced to relocate, yet again. The vendors say that they have a huge shortage of customers where they relocate to and are often required to move from there as well.

The hawkers and the Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC) have been at loggerheads since March last year after the Charminar Pedestrianization Project (CPP) taken up by the civic body. The project intended to pedestrianise the area around Charminar by diverting vehicles, conserve historic structures in the precinct and upgrade infrastructure.

This project by the GHMC resulted in a considerable loss of business for the dozens of street vendors around Charminar and they were displaced for many months. In time, many of the vendors who were relocated then returned and set up shop close to the structure.

“Even after relocating, our problems don’t end because so many of us are displaced and it gets crowded there and eventually the police ask many of us to relocate again. Many of these fruit vendors have their businesses taken away from them and we don’t know what to do,” says Raju, who mainly sells fruits.

When asked what he was going to do to sustain his business for the season, Raju replies that he would have to temporarily take his stall to whichever market he finds.

Another hawker, Sheikh Syed, whose jewellery stall is located directly next to Charminar, says that he is a little more fortunate.

"My stall and the ones around it will remain here and only the ones which are obstructing either the road or the footpath will be removed. If a new stall shows up, they also are asked to relocate,” says Syed.

Other hawkers confirm that stalls situated directly adjacent to the monument are not as susceptible to be relocated.

“We’re fortunate that we have set up shop in a place like this, others who are not as fortunate will be asked to move away,” says another street vendor.

Though not all the hawkers will be asked to relocate, dozens will still lose a significant amount of potential business. A traffic policeman on duty near Charminar says, “We only relocate stalls which are obstructing the paths. We are keeping this area tight because the number of people coming here will increase drastically (due to Ramzan) and we must avoid congestion.”

Another hawker alleged that the police ‘harass’ them even though their stalls do not obstruct the road.

“The police harass some of us every day and force us to move away even though we set up shop in places which do not obstruct the paths. We’ve frankly gotten used to getting shouted at by the police every day,” the hawker says.

Attempting to resolve the issue, Hyderabad MP Asaduddin Owaisi had previously urged the Telangana government to construct three bridges across the Musi river to help the displaced hawkers and street vendors.

Speaking to TNM, GHMC Corporator of Pathergatti, Syed Sohail Quadri says, “We are pushing for these proposed bridges to be built soon to solve the problems of the hawkers.”

 

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