Monday 19 August 2019

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Goa's hawkers crying for justice

 

Public streets and markets in Goa's major towns now look more spacious and clean, but at the cost of over 5000 hawkers and kiosk-runners being deprived of their livelihood, thanks to the high court intervention over inefficiency of the municipal authorities.

As the municipal authorities have now suddenly moved into action to obey the high curt order to clean the illegal structures, the traders have moved to the supreme court with a request to postpone the deadline till the authorities rehabilitate them in an organised manner.

Meanwhile, suicide committed by one displaced cloth vendor leaving behind his wife and two small kids has spread a wave of shock and anguish all over the state. Any further attempt by the authorities to displace the remaining ones is likely to cause tension in a tiny tourist state.

Neither the government authorities nor presidents of the 13 elected municipalities could tell why they did not prepare any plan of rehabilitating all the supposedly illegal traders for one and a half year when the high court had issued direction in this regard in June 1997.

Chief minister Luizinho Faleiro is now personally trying to pacify the furious traders and find amicable solution to the problem since the high court issued a deadline of only 14 days, to clear the illegal structures by 31 December.

Though court remained adamant on clearing encroachments and illegal extensions despite government's intervention during the court hearing, the deadline to remove structures in road widening areas, setbacks and private properties has now been extended till 15 January.

The municipal authorities have also been directed to prepare rehabilitation plans for the displaced traders by demarcating hawking zones in the cities. Though kiosk owners and hawkers on the streets could be relocated in some places in the towns, authorities are still not clear where to rehabilitate those hawkers who have been running their small business in the municipal markets from the Portuguese days.

The government authorities in the meanwhile also admit that they have not applied mind to create satellite markets in the growing cities like Panaji, Mapusa, Vasco, Margao and Ponda due to increasing urbanisation in the tourist state.

The issue however could have serious political implications while Assembly polls are hardly ten months away since the court has fully exposed the corrupt methods adopted by the councillors belonging to all the political parties while issuing licences to the traders, but are now sitting quite with their fingers crossed over it.






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