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Authorities sit on designated vending zones in Srinagar

Encroachment of roads, footpaths hamper vehicular, pedestrian movement
12:51 AM May 20, 2024 IST | Rabiya Bashir
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Srinagar, May 19: Absence of designated vending zones has prompted street vendors to encroach upon various public areas in Srinagar, significantly disrupting both traffic flow and pedestrian movement.

Under the Smart City project, 6,000 street vendors were planned to be relocated to designated "smart vending zones” but till now nothing has been done on the ground. These vendors were assured to be relocated to Batamaloo, Jahangir Chowk as part of their ongoing Urban Development Project.

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Due to absence of such a zone, vendors have occupied spaces Hari Singh High Street Batamaloo, Downtown, Lal Chowk, near LD Hospital, vicinity of SKIMS Soura and CD Hospital, among others.

Many street vendors voiced concerns about the potential impact of relocation on their businesses.

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They said the existing challenges, including low customer footfall aggravated by heavy rainfall this year, making it increasingly difficult to sustain their livelihoods.

Rayees Ahmad, a commuter, said that these public spaces have been transformed into congested marketplaces. “Authorities should provide proper spaces for the vendors so they can earn a living without creating a traffic mess,” he said.

Others said that the encroachment of roads has transformed bustling public spaces into congested marketplaces, severely impeding the free movement of people and vehicles.

“The occupation of public spaces creates traffic congestion and hampers pedestrian movement, the authorities should delay in shifting vendors to designated zones despite construction of vending areas,” said another commuter.

In areas like Maharaja Bazar, the situation is particularly dire, with vendors extending their presence up to LD Hospital, leaving minimal room for pedestrians.

Officials in SMC said that concrete plans are in place to relocate vendors under the Smart City Project.

As per officials, the construction work at Batmaloo area for street vendors is going on. The vendor's space at Jahangir Chowk is almost ready. Mecca market will also be modernised under the Smart City Project.

The smart vending zones were promised to improve working conditions of street vendors, ensuring a conducive environment for their businesses but till now nothing has been done so far.

“By organising vending activities into designated zones, the plan aims to de-clutter streets in urban local bodies (ULBs), promoting walkability and enhancing overall urban aesthetics,” officials said.

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