Raja Syed Rather
Ganderbal, Nov 20: Residents in Ganderbal said they are “tired of complaining about the difficulties” they face while commuting on roads and walking on footpaths across the markets in the district.
While police have taken some measures to clear up space on roads by challaning or seizing vehicles from no-parking zones, Municipal Committee Ganderbal seems least bothered about clearing footpaths of encroachments in the town, locals said.
Although the MC Ganderbal has launched several drives to clear encroachments from footpaths in some areas, it has failed to curb the menace permanently, they added.
As a result of the town’s failure to maintain a close vigil over footpath encroachment, many shopkeepers and vendors continue to operate their businesses on the sidewalks, leaving no room for people to stroll.
“All of the Beehama and Duderhama market’s alleyways have sidewalks that have been encroached upon,” a group of commuters said.
Despite repeated efforts by police to improve traffic management; the jams persist, especially in the evenings, they said, adding that this is because vendors, shop owners and other commercial establishments encroach on the pavement.
Locals claim that many shop owners in several markets have illegally encroached upon sidewalks and pavements by putting various goods in front of their stores, obstructing pedestrian movement.
“Majority of the footpaths in Ganderbal town have been taken over by shopkeepers. As a result, we are forced to get down from the footpath to avoid bumping into street vendors or other pedestrians,” said Basit Ahmad, a student.
“These shopkeepers and vendors choke the movement of traffic, causing inconvenience to common people. MC Ganderbal is responsible for all this mess,” he added.
Another local, Shakeel Ahmad from the main town, said, “I witnessed many times police removing some vendors, but as soon as the personnel disappear, the shopkeepers and vendors are reoccupying footpaths.”
According to residents, shopkeepers ruin the market’s appearance and make the lives of pedestrians “miserable”.
“Shopkeepers now illegally consume footpaths for selling their products, forcing pedestrians to walk on roads, which is risky,” they said.
Commuters have urged authorities to seriously look into the matter and take action against the encroaching shopkeepers.
When contacted, Chief Executive Office Municipal Council Ganderbal, Mirza Asif Ali Beigh said, “We will seriously look into the pathway encroachment. The street vendors will be relocated. Those who breach and occupy pavements will face serious penalties.”