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Encroachments Cramp Mapusa Market

The Mapusa Municipal Market, which is famous for its “Friday Market” seems to be running out of space due to rampant encroachments, which seem to be a regular feature with the shopkeepers and street vendors occupying every inch.A visit to the town market, one is encountered with the encroachment menace, as on one hand, the shopkeepers have displayed their wares along the footpaths and on the other, the street vendors and hawkers have occupied every inch of the same.The local Mapusa Municipal Council collects Rs 10 per sq mt daily as sopo from the street vendors, while the shopkeepers pay the civic body their monthly rent.
The current scenario is such that people who visit the market for their  daily shopping are forced to walk in stealth manner.The locals claim that the municipality is aware of the current situation in the market but has been playing a mute spectator to the same.It may be recalled that a decade ago, the Bombay High Court had ordered to clear all the footpaths.  The MMC workers under the supervision of the then Chief Officer Sakharam Tukaram Sawant had cleared all the footpaths in the market of encroachments and the extended kiosks were reduced to their original size. However, following the drive, things were back to normal in the Mapusa market as the hawkers, street vendors and the shopkeepers allegedly flouted all rules by encroaching the footpaths.
Be it cloth merchants, those selling electronics and home appliances, hotels and others, all have displayed their wares outside their shops and that too along the footpaths which is illegal.When contacted, the President of Mapusa Merchants’ Association Ashish Shirodkar said, “Today every footpath and street in the market is occupied by a vendor where they display their wares under an umbrella. And this in turn has led the shopkeepers to display their products in front of their shops.”“The shopkeeper pays the shop rent and other taxes. If the shops are not visible then no customer will visit the shops. So even after paying so many taxes if there is no business then how will the shopkeepers survive? He questioned.
“The municipality should follow the High Court guidelines and clear the footpaths by taking strict action. The civic body has failed to act on account of receiving commissions from the sopekars. The daily sopo collection of Rs 10 per each vendor is just eyewash as the slot is being sold for lakhs of rupees”, he alleged Things turn from bad to worse during the Friday market as the situation gets chaotic as people from Bardez and other neighboring talukas visit the market for shopping. Traffic snarls seems to be the order of the day on Fridays.
When contacted, Mapusa Municipal Council chairperson Sandip Falari said, “During festive season we allow the vendors to display their products outside their shops but instead of getting back to their previous routine they continue to do so. We have taken several drives from time-to-time to clear the encroachments but once we leave, they are back. When a customer wants to buy a particular product he will visit a particular shop or go to a vendor sitting in front of the shops. The people conducting business here are known persons due to which we are not taking any strict action but I appeal to all street vendors and shop owners not to force us to take tough steps since we have authority to do so”. [H]

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