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A daily market for Kondivita

The municipal corporation's drive against hawkers along the approaches to railway stations is to be commended. But you cannot simply throw out hawkers from everywhere without providing them some alternative.

If you do so you risk driving a large number of them into the ranks of criminals. And more crime is something we can do without right now. Also, one suspects that though most people complain about hawkers now they would complain even more loudly if they have to travel five kilometres to the nearest market.

We do not know of any solution that would apply to all of Mumbai. But as far as the area covered by this magazine goes there is a simple solution. This is to develop the Kondivita weekly market into a daily market selling vegetables, fish and other perishables as well as other goods used in the household. All hawkers in the area can then be forced to move here.

The Kondivita market is ideally located for residents of Chakala, J.B. Nagar, Marol and of course Kondivita. Right now it is little better than a cesspool, at least large parts of it. But there is no reason why this can't be changed. The trouble is that the corporation's idea of a market is a shed without proper drainage, parking spaces or even broad enough paths between rows of vendors. It almost never thinks big.

Land is at a premium in Mumbai. But at Kondivita a large patch of land right beside the road is grossly underused except on one day a week. Instead it could be developed as a multi-storeyed structure, with the bottom devoted to vegetables, meat, fish and other perishables and the first floor devoted to non-perishable household goods.

How would such a market be financed? One way would be to allot space to vendors for a predetermined fee or to auction such space in a transparent manner. Another way would be to turn the second and third floors into public halls which could be let out or sold as office space. Which company would buy space in a building that houses a fish and vegetable market, it will be asked. The solution is simply to provide an entrance to such offices from one side of the building that would be barred to vendors.

Right now the Kondivita market is an eyesore. With proper planning it can be a place that local residents look forward to visiting. That means proper parking besides the building; the area available is more than sufficient to provide this. Autos and taxis would not be allowed to stop on the road but only in the space provided for them inside the market. This may seem impossible to implement, but it must be said in favour of the policemen who control the traffic on Saturdays that they usually do a good job; indeed traffic moves more smoothly on Saturdays than on other days when no policemen are present.

What are the hurdles to implementing what seems to be a wonderful dream? There probably isn't any. After all, if a clean, regulated market can be established at Vile Parle (East) there is no reason why one cannot be set up at Kondivita where far more space is available. Indeed there is one hurdle. Today municipal corporation employees have a field day collecting haphthas from the vendors who come to the weekly market and spill out on the roads. If a proper market is set up, they would lose some of their income.