KOCHI: For the past 20 years, Ajayan used to be a familiar face at the walkway on Marine Drive. But, from now on, neither will he be there nor his shop that sells sunshades. Not only Ajayan but around 20 street-side vendors have vacated the walkway following the directive issued by the High Court on Wednesday.
"We came to know of the order through the newspapers and decided to shift everything back home. We could have waited till the authorities came to evict us, but they would have seized our things. I have been selling sunshades for 20 years but have never faced a situation like this," said Ajayan.
The order was issued based on a petition filed by Ranjit G Thampy which stated that the presence of street-side vendors ruin the beauty of the walkway and increases waste dumping. Though the vendors have removed their shops, they are planning to file a review petition. "The court has not heard our side," said Ajayan.
Street-side vendors are also blamed for being the cause of anti-social activities in the area. "But, we leave by sunset and the alleged activities happen after that," said Ajayan. Meanwhile, Usman K A, district secretary of the 'Vazhiyora Kachavada Thozhilali Union' (CITU), expressed his anger. "The collective move against the small-scale and street-side vendors has been increasing in the corporation. The impleading party was not even informed of the decision of the court. The corporation should provide some rehabilitation," he said.
At Fort Kochi, there are lines of shops, especially near the corporation office and park. "They do not have permits to sell there. The corporation and revenue officials had tried to evict them earlier but to no avail. They return after two or three days," said Shiny Mathew, Fort Kochi councillor. Besides, as per an order passed years ago, the corporation was supposed to arrange a vending zone where the vendors could be rehabilitated but it did not materialise.
"The vending zone could have been a good option if it came into effect. But according to a survey, there were more than 200 vendors in Fort Kochi and we did not have the space to accommodate so many people," she said.
Corp directed to find alternative
The small-scale, street-side vendors had protested against the eviction drives carried out by the corporation on August 1 and 2. On the second day of the protest, Minister for Local Self Government, A C Moideen directed the corporation authorities to find a solution by the end of this month.
Mattancherry residents have not encouraged illegal street-side vendors. Most of the shops are run by people who have been living there for years. "Though the vendors put up shops occasionally, during festivals and celebrations, they do not stay here for long," said Ashraf TK, councillor.