A city boasting of 300 years of glorious history, with a wide range of socio-political heritage, and a profound cultural legacy, now looks lying beside the river Hooghly, Kolkata, the City of Joy, was one-time the capital of India. Though being the capital of West Bengal, it is the biggest business hub of Eastern India. An idle stroll down the business areas of the city gives one the impression that the chunk of business activities in the city occur on the pavements. Hawking on streets – a simple Paan shop to imported perfumes, rampantly appear across the length and breadth of the city.
This plight of the city has made it extremely unkempt and problematic for foot traffic. This has led to numerous problems like increase in accidents owing to pedestrians using the roads. Additionally, with the unplanned development of vendor’s shops has hampered the visual appeal of the pavements. None of the residential or commercial sectors is exempt from this menace. With the wildly exposed poverty on the streets of Kolkata, the resolution of this problem is difficult. Cleansing of the pavements through eradication of permanent and temporary establishments made by the street vendors which serve as the livelihood for lakhs of the unskilled, poorer crowd will result in mass unemployment. This will lead to an increase in abject poverty and higher criminal activities in the city. This may also lead to suicides and deaths due to hunger in line with the poverty-stricken farmers of rural India. Thus, the administration needs to find out a befitting strategy to resolve the issue.
Organised markets in various pockets of the city should be established to rehabilitate the indisposed vendors. Following this, the municipal authorities should impose stringent penalties for unauthorised hawking on pavements. Beautification of the pavements can be done to reduce the chances of encroachments by street vendors. The civil administration should organise campaigns for encouraging citizens to keep the pavements clean and encroachment free. Furthermore, making organised markets would ensure lesser harassment by police personnel and goons alike. Doing so would ensure a more hygienic environment, with lesser pilferage and waste on the pavements, and would hence ensure a healthier environment for hawkers and customers alike. Hence, the government, through the municipality should take up steps to bring about these changes to ensure a cleaner and more organised city.