3-yrs on, Smart vending zone meant for decongesting city awaits completion

Suhail Bhat

Srinagar, Feb 3: Around 270 vendors who set up their carts between Jahangir Chowk and Amira Kadal are awaiting the allotment of stalls made for their rehabilitation under the much-hyped smart city project at Magarmal Bagh area here, even as authorities have stepped up their anti-encroachment drive against street vendors.
The lack of a selling zone has forced street sellers to set up shop along the roadsides, where they frequently encounter administration wrath during anti-encroachment campaigns. They claimed that they have been waiting for a suitable vending zone for the last 2-3 years so that they are not left humiliated.
“We are all set to move our stalls there because we will be able to work there till late at night. We do not want people to be inconvenienced as a result of our actions. We want them to help all of our 270 members get back on their feet, “he said.
He claimed that they had been expecting roughly 270 stores to be allocated there for the past three years, but only 170 had been built, and that “the government should rehabilitate all 270 members. What would happen to others if they only handed us 170 shops? “he asked.
Government planned to establish a smart vending zone in Magarmal as part of the much-hyped smart city project, with the goal of decongesting the city’s roadsides. Vendors, on the other hand, allege that the disproportionate delay in allotting these stalls is causing them concern.
The project has been in the works for few years, according to government sources, with tenders and other essential processes beginning in the last months of 2019. The COVID-19 pandemic, they believe, has delayed the program, which was supposed to begin last year at Magarmal Bagh’s smart vending zone.
Construction work on some of the stalls is underway, according to SMC Commissioner Ather Amin Khan, and street vendors who have registered with the government will be transferred to vending zones once the work is completed. “The construction work is underway at a few places, and stalls will be allotted once the construction is complete,” he said.
The shopkeepers justified the action by claiming that relocating street sellers will assist to decongest areas where they have traditionally resided, causing huge traffic bottlenecks. “More of these vending zones are needed so that all street vendors can be housed there and the streets are no longer occupied by them. Commuters will sigh with relief,” said Bilal Ahmad, a shopkeeper said.