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Street Vendors Thrown Out, Licensed Vendors Turn Table On Cops, Street Vendors Put Case Before IMC

An elderly woman gathers her goods after she was told to move out. Image Credit: Sangai Photo

IMPHAL, Apr 26 : Even as street vendors of Khwairamband Keithel were driven out from their usual spots by the police in accordance to a Cabinet decision, licensed vendors of the three women markets came out on the streets and hawked their wares charging that street vendors were allowed to do their business on the streets by police after taking money.

Acting on the Cabinet decision to shift all street vendors of Khwairamband Keithel to Lamphel shopping complex, a large number of police and police commandos came to Khwairamband Keithel and drove out the street vendors scattering vegetables and other wares in the process.

This resulted in a sort of tussle with the street vendors trying to snatch back their wares from the police.

Later, the street vendors were taken to City police station along with their wares.

Police also carried out a publicity campaign using loud speakers asking street vendors to vacate their spots and also to remove all vehicles parked on the streets.

In the afternoon, a large number of street vendors marched to the Imphal Municipal Council office demanding that they be given their seats at a suitable place inside Khwairamband Keithel, not at Lamphel.

They strongly contended that they cannot accept the Government’s plan to allot them seats at Lamphel and Porompat shopping complexes as very few customers come at these places for marketing.

There is no purpose in allotting vendor seats at this city outskirt, they asserted.

One street vendor reminded that the Government assured them to give plots in the temporary market sheds once the licensed vendors were shifted to the multi-storey market complexes.

But only those occupying Nagamapal road sides were given their seats in the temporary market sheds but others were kept away from the arrangement.

Coupled with partial treatment, the Cabinet decision to give vendor plots at Lamphel shopping complex has infuriated the street vendors all the more, she said.

The enraged street vendors gathered at IMC office and sought an appointment with the IMC Chairperson. After waiting for sometime as Chairperson Ranisana was not present at the office at the time, the street vendors had a meeting with the Chairperson.

The two sides agreed to submit a memorandum to the Chief Minister at 11 am tomorrow.

In the meantime, licensed vendors of the three women markets came out on the streets  and hawked their wares, saying that their business have slumped since they shifted to the new market complexes.

They said that their business have failed because of street vendors who have been occupying all the entry and exit points to the market complexes after paying some money to police and police commandos.

Police and Traffic Police have been taking Rs 5 to 10 from the street vendors every now and then for allowing them to do their business on the streets, they alleged.

“Had they (police) not taken money from the street vendors, could the street vendors came back after they were driven away”? they asked.

Questioning the Government’s inability to give a proper place to the street vendors, the licensed vendors pointed out that all first floors of the new market complexes have been lying vacant.

They went on to suggest that the street vendors may be allowed to ply their business on the first floors.

“Under such an agreement, all of us including street vendors can do our business profitably and with peace of mind”, they said.

Betel leave vendors have also been affected badly because of non-local people hawking the same item in galis and streets.

On the other hand, the monthly tax for licensed vendors has been increased to Rs 70 from Rs 10 which is inclusive of power and water taxes.

Coupled with the increase in travel fares and failure in their business, many of the vendors have been facing hard times to earn their livelihood.

Complaining that roofs of the newly constructed market sheds have been leaking, the vendors lamented that the Government has been paying little attention to their plight.

Moreover, arrangement of seats within the new market complexes has not been completed till date, they added.

(Courtesy: The Sangai Express)

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