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Roadside hawkers in Mall Road Darjeeling to be evicted soon

Roadside hawkers in Mall Road Darjeeling
The Gorkha Janmukti Morcha-controlled Darjeeling municipality today said the roadside hawkers along the Mall Road would be soon evicted, apparently bowing to pressure from the hill Trinamool Congress that has demanded the vendors’ removal arguing the ambience of the tourist haunt was getting spoilt.
The hawkers used to trade alongside Nehru Road leading to Chowrasta earlier, and they had been doing so for nearly 35 years. The municipality evicted them from that area about four years ago, with the hawkers trading from the right side of the road being allotted space below Chowrasta, while those selling their wares from the left side were provided with temporary space at the Mall road just below the Mahakal temple.
Darjeeling Municipality chairman Amar Rai said, “When the roadside hawkers from Nehru Road were evicted, 182 of them who had stalls on the right side of the road were given space below Chowarsta, while 30 trading from the opposite side were allotted temporary space at the Mall Road until an alternative and permanent place was identified. The hill TMC requested us to remove the hawkers from the Mall Road area as it is a tourist spot. Moreover, some of them have erected additional stalls there for their friends and relatives.
“The temporary space along the Mall Road was meant for only some 30 hawkers who had stalls on Nehru Road, but it appears they have started taking undue advantage and set up more stalls. We will evict all of them very soon and provide permanent space to only those 30 hawkers who used to trade from Nehru Road. They will get spaces on the top floor of a building on NB Singh Road. Sheds will be constructed there for which an e-tender has already been floated. Construction work will start as soon as the election code of conduct is over.” He added that the remaining hawkers who had illegally set up stalls on the Mall Road would be completely evicted.
But the hawkers, who have teamed up under the New Mahakal Market Committee, said they would not agree to the municipality’s decision,  demanding all of them should be properly relocated. NMMC president Sunil Tamang said, “When we were removed from Nehru Road, our side of the road had a total of 88 hawkers and not 30, as the municipality is asserting. After we were brought here to the Mall Road, the number of hawkers increased to about 110 as we allowed some individuals to set up stalls as they come from very weak financial backgrounds. We want everyone to be rehabilitated and not just the 30 of us as everybody has a family to feed and their only source of income is these stalls. We will hold a meeting soon and decide on our next course of action.” (EOIC)

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