Even after the completion of Swachhata Survekshan in January Vasundhara Zone of Ghaziabad Nagar Nigam (GNN) strangely has not taken any action against the squatters and vendors who have again started to regroup in Sectors 13, 15, 16 & 17 of Vasundhara where earlier the GNN had forced them out in a special drive. The GNN had also fenced part of stretch along Sectors 17 & 15, however these illegal vendors are back in full force around Sector 17 Mother Dairy and across other sectors. The residents of these sectors complained that the hawkers came back a couple of months ago but the GNN did not do anything about it. Pedestrians, motorists and other residents equally are complaining about these encroachers as they eat up the public spaces and footpaths.
The GNN had earlier acted against the encroachers and illegal vendors after NGT ordered to clear all storm water drains of Vasundhara. This led to a major drive against the encroachers along the Sector 16 stretch—several of them being illegal shopkeepers running shops from houses who had extended their shops beyond the storm water drain of Sector 16. The rest were hawkers who had set shop on pavements and towards Sector 17 & 15 storm water drain. They were also removed and their temporary shops were dismantled and demolished. They were also warned of strict action if they came back again.
When delhincrnews.in spoke to the GNN sometime back an official said that the anti-encroachment drive will resume in February but so far there are no signs of it.
However, the encroachments are spread across all sectors and important junctions of Vasundhara, such as Parshuram Chowk (Sector 10, 11 & 13), Kisan Chowk and Agrasen Chowk Sectors 16, 17 & 18). They are mainly selling chaat & tikki, golgappas, samosas, puja material, fruit & vegetables and clothes among other eatables.
The Superintending Engineer, Avas Vikas (Vasundhara Circle), Narsingh Prasad had told delhincrnews.in that the Avas Vikas is in the process of sending notices to illegal shopowners in Vasundhara but as they are short of staff the process is taking time. He also said that the Avas Vikas needs to take permission of sealing from the Ghaziabad Development Authority (GDA), as the Avas Vikas Act does not allow the staff to seal premises without permission from the GDA.
But the fact is that illegal hawkers and vendors who usually occupy public spaces such as pavements and roadsides can be acted against only by the GNN and not the Avas Vikas.
How can a bunch of shopkeepers openly defy law and go on doing their business in all violation of rules, said Arvind Gupta, a resident of Vasundhara. Several residents pointed out that despite being counted among one of the best colonies of Ghaziabad, Vasundhara has been defaced by illegal encroachers. The GNN on its part is busy beautifying the colony by painting the divider walls and getting them repaired. Steps have also been taken to clean up the green belt between divider on the main road. However, it falls short of taking action against encroachers alongside roads.
In fact, the GNN has started a free registration drive for hawkers recently, said some of the hawkers. One hawker who sets shop at Sector 16 public space said that hawkers and vendors from as far as Gr Noida had come to the Vasundhara office to get themselves registered. However, where this drive is headed towards is not clear at this point of time.
In the end it is the residents who suffer. Be it the illegal hawkers or shops the residents are daily getting an overdose of congestion, traffic jams and air pollution. This is when the air pollution monitoring station at Vasundhara Sector 16 daily records high levels of pollution, indicating that illegal commercial activity is playing havoc with the health of people in this colony.
The GNN that has spent several days and funds in organising Swachhata drive should explain what it is trying to achieve as encroachments by hawkers & vendors directly contribute to pollution- be it organic and solid waste or air pollution.