Prashant Dayal, Ahmedabad: Vehicles have now begun zooming on the streets of Ahmedabad without any stops or hiccups. There is a different level of satisfaction on the face of the riders, drivers, and commuters. When two Ahmedabad citizens talk, most of the conversations now revolve around the changing scene of the city. The citizens have been giving credit of this positive change to the city police commissioner A.K. Singh and the municipal commissioner Vijay Nehra. But any development in the city must bring satisfaction to all the segments of the society, which doesn’t seem to have been achieved by this drive. The satisfaction can be seen only on the faces of the upper-middle class and elite class. There’s still a class that instead of being happy has been put into despair.

Since the day Gujarat High Court rapped Ahmedabad City Police commissioner over the rising traffic problems and parking woes in the city, the administration along with the police have come down to the streets to clear the illegal constructions and other encroachments on the roads. They targeted the handcarts and other hawkers as they believe that they are the one who blocks the flow of traffic most. Most of these hawkers come from a poor financial background and their handcarts are their only source of income.

The hawkers are not the only reason behind the traffic bottle-necks; those towering buildings that are built without any arrangements for parking too are equally responsible for it. Visitors and people working in these buildings park their vehicles on the pavements or streets, hence encroaching upon a major chunk of the roads on both the sides. But the administration never takes action against them as these buildings belong to big brands or some high-profile personality from the city. The cops never catch hold and take action against those who illegally construct buildings, because most of the time, the builders themselves are politicians or they are close to political class. But those handcart hawkers, who sell their wares on street and don’t even know the corporators of their area, always end up facing the music of law.

Ahmedabad has about 5 lakh people who run their houses by selling on streets. These hawkers are always living under constant fear of action against them by the police and the administration. They survive despite harassment by local goons, raids by cops and corporation officials. Because they don’t have enough money to either buy a shop or possess the education to do a job.

Every time we don’t find a parking spot for our car, we say that these hawkers must be removed from all the places. But one doesn’t understand that if these handcart sellers are removed totally, we who enjoy our ‘kitli-culture’ sipping tea at a measly price of Rs 7 or 8 will have to shell out more than 25 rupees for a cup of tea. That vada pav we enjoy for 15-20 rupees will cost us more at shops. Thus several services and facilities which we avail at a minimal cost will become dearer. We must not just think about our own greed but also about these people who come in the lower rung of the society whose livelihood is dependent on their business.

It is the responsibility of the administration to relocate these small-time hawkers after they are removed from their place of business, just like thousands of people were relocated years ago when the Narmada Dam was to be constructed. A majority of people from the society claim that one must let go of something for the sake of development, but when they are asked to pull back a few inches of their wall or their garden, the stance changes. Development must happen for all, but the rich are becoming richer and the poor is getting poorer.

Click here to read this in Gujarati. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter for news updates.