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Bhopal: Street vendors still pay illegal 'fees' despite CM's directive

CM Shivraj had said that no market fee would be charged. But, whenever the municipality comes here, street vendors “have to pay Rs 1000-1500”.

By Shishir Agrawal
New Update
street vendors bhopal in bad state

The Shivraj government recently announced the establishment of a Welfare Board for street vendors. The Chief Minister made several pronouncements at Bhopal's Lal Parade Ground, including the issuance of identity cards to street vendors. Nonetheless, according to the street vendors situated on the roadside in front of Rani Kamalapati Railway Station, these initiatives haven't notably impacted them. Ashok Singh Rajput, a local tea shop owner, commented,

“Every now and then the Municipal Corporation people come to remove the shop. We have to run away with our belongings.”

While addressing the street vendors, Shivraj had said that no market fee of any kind would be charged to them. But Ashok says that whenever the municipality employees come here, they “have to pay Rs 1000-1500”.


One day's loss is big

Ashok has been working in this area for the last 25 years. He started his career by working in a hotel here. In the year 2012, he started his own small hotel. But in the year 2019, due to the lockdown imposed during the Corona period, they had to close it. “After the lockdown, there was not enough capital to restart the hotel,” Ashok explains. He further says that after searching for work for six months, he has started this small gumthi (small shop). But his business has been badly affected due to dust. In such a situation, if the Municipal Corporation removes them, the business stops completely for a day. This is a big loss for them.


There is no money to repay the loan

The Pradhan Mantri SVANidhi Yojana, a program launched during the COVID-19 era, provides street vendors with a loan ranging between Rs 10,000 to Rs 50,000. Currently, Ashok has debts totalling Rs 3 lakh from various banks, including a Rs 50,000 loan obtained through the Pradhan Mantri Swanidhi Yojana. He is expected to make monthly repayments of Rs 2,400. However, he has been unable to do so for the past three months due to business uncertainties. Another vendor on the same street expressed similar issues. Interestingly, in Madhya Pradesh alone, the government scheme has received 272,154 applications. Out of these, funding totaling Rs 161.632 crore has been approved by the government for 162,261 applicants.

Will the ruined Shahpura be restored?

Food trucks used to line the road leading to Campion School in the Shahpura area of Bhopal, forming a famous hawker zone established by the Municipal Corporation in 2014 after investing Rs 46 lakh. However, this zone was dismantled in February due to claims of illegal encroachment by the Bhopal Municipal Corporation. Ajay, a local food seller specializing in Tibetan dishes, started his business in this area in 2016 and was impacted by this change. He now operates from a smaller cart, and has reestablished his food truck elsewhere in Bhopal.


Another shopkeeper here says in an informal conversation that there used to be about 70 shops in this area of Shahpura. But now only 15-16 shops are left. These shops are being demarcated and reallocated by the Municipal Corporation. Here, Rahul Meena, a person who runs a shop named Momos and More, says that the shop next to his has been allotted to a big company. Will Shahpura become buzzing again? No, the shopkeepers still have no answers to this question.

There is no denial of illegal recovery

Ground Report talked to people who set up different shops on different roads in Bhopal. Most of these shopkeepers are beneficiaries of the Pradhan Mantri SVANidhi Yojana. Some shopkeepers say that the incidents of their removal by the Municipal Corporation's anti-encroachment team have reduced. However, most of these shopkeepers do not agree on stopping of illegal extortion. He says,

“No matter what the government says about ‘fees’, we are still paying them.”

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