Despite the change in guard in UP the same old story continues as far as encroachments on pavements and public spaces is concerned. Across Vaishali, Indirapuram and Vasundhara, hawkers and vendors and in some cases- residents of the nearby colonies have completely laid siege to footpaths and spaces meant for the public. The situation becomes quite dangerous during evenings—especially when people travel within various sectors and colonies accompanied with children—when there is always a chance of someone getting knocked down by motorists who are speeding past, as pedestrians are unable to walk on the pavements.
“The whole illegal business of shops that are actually residential premises alongside roads has turned probably every area of Vaishali & Vasundhara into hell and has resulted in traffic jams. The undue burden of commercial activities pollutes the atmosphere and is detrimental to the residents,” said Manohar Vats, a Vaishali resident and senior citizen. In Vasundhara, Indirapuram and colonies such as Brij Vihar, Surya Nagar & Chandra Nagar it is the same story. A Vasundhara resident Minal Tripathi pointed out, “Youngsters on scooties and bikes do not like to walk nowadays and think that they have a better status if they own a two-wheeler. They park their vehicles on the space designated for pavements alongwith other violators.”
In Vaishali, Sectors 2, 4,5,6; in Noida Sectors, 2, 6, 12 and in Vasundhara Sectors 16 encroachment by the street side vendors and illegal parking of vehicles is the most severe. Many residents say that this goes on (business of vendors) with the connivance of local police (Chowki level) and the Nagar Nigam, both of which look the other way, as they have a vested interest in carrying out these commercial activities.
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Previously, local residents of Sector 16 and Sector 17 have been quite vocal about the illegal markets and vendors and recently there was a drive against them also; but now things have become much worser. A resident of Vasundhara Sector 15, Deepak Singh Negi said: “The UP Avas & Vikas Nigam built lots of commercial complexes throughout Vasundhara but these are gathering dust, while illegal shops (residences) are thriving.” He remarked that there should be a policy wherein people who have bought shops in Avas Vikas are asked to start shops or else surrender them, at the same time Avas Vikas should initiate penal action against all those who are carrying out commercial activities from inside their houses or renting them out. “This inevitably will tackle traffic and pollution,” he added.
Residents of Sectors 13, 15, 16 among others have built ramps extending up to the footpaths and some have even built small gardens on the footpaths. Whenever, the Ghaziabad Nagar Nigam (GNN) has taken action it has met with stiff resistance. The GNN also needs to have its house in order. “GNN does not have its own police force like in the case of GDA that makes it difficult to tackle encroachment, as any such exercise means requesting the local police to accompany GNN enforcement officials. This unnecessarily takes time and is not practical,” pointed out a GNN source.
It might be noted here that Ghaziabad Nagar Nigam is responsible for removing encroachments in Vaishali, Vasundhara and many such colonies across Ghaziabad while the Avas Vikas and GDA are mainly responsible for any violation of housing byelaws. In Noida, it is the duty of Noida Authority to tackle encroachments.
“Although local associations of residents in Vasundhara and Indirapuram were recently in the news for resisting illegal vendors and hawkers set shop in their areas it is the failure of the police to enforce the diktats of the law that baffles residents. “The police is the only administrative wing that is on duty 24X7 and it is under their nose that these encroachments are removed and take place again. Hence, the local Chowki Incharge should be made accountable for any such misdemeanour by anyone—be it hawkers or owners of residential premises in these areas of Ghaziabad,” said Harendra Tyagi, Brij Vihar resident. These illegal vendors said that as they paid a fixed sum to the local police why should they have any fear of getting out of business.
In the meantime, for the law abiding resident of Ghaziabad and Noida nothing has changed and they are forced to face unruly traffic jams and encroachments of public spaces, while the illegal vendors and shop owners openly violate the law.