The mayor of Kolkata Municipal Corporation (KMC), Firhad Hakim, today met the members of the Gariahat Hawkers Union (GHU), that comprises hawkers who had lost their stalls in the Gariahat fire incident, and briefed them about the stalls that will be provided to them while also holding discussions on alternative material other than plastic that will be used to cover the stalls.

The mayor today held a meeting with the GHU where it was informed that most of the work towards providing ready made stalls has been done. Mr Hakim said that the design of the stalls have been changed in order to provide a shade for customers for when it is raining. The layout of the stalls had been shown to the hawkers earlier, during which some changes were suggested by them.

The KMC, after the fire incident in Gariahat, had assured that pre-fabricated stalls will be provided to the affected hawkers. That is, however, yet to come into fruition.

Talking to The Statesman, Saktiman Ghosh, general secretary of the Hawkers Sangram Committee and president of the GHU, said “Today, a total of 52 affected hawkers of Gariahat fire met the mayor, to disuss about the stall measurements. The problem that persists is that the civic body is recommending 4×4 size stalls for the hawkers which they are not accepting. There are several hawkers who sell different commodities in Gariahat that includes food, groceries and garments. Not all their shops were of the same size. We had recommended the size 6×4.”

The hawkers are demanding that the stalls be installed first and thereafter, they can adjust it accordingly instead of the civic body setting a standard size for all. Mr Ghosh said the Hawkers Sangram Committee (HSC) will hold a meeting with the Gariahat Hawkers Union on Wednesday at 4.00 p.m, and will further discuss with them the complexities. “We do not want any dispute between the hawkers’ body and the KMC and prefer a solution to the problem. If the hawkers agree with the KMC proposal, then all will be solved, otherwise I have also suggested a model which I will discuss with them. Whatever they say, it will also be the stand of the HSC.”

Commenting on an alternative material to plastic, Mr Ghosh said “The hawkers’ are also against using plastic. We too do not want to use plastic. But the question is what will be the alternative material? Huge umbrellas can be used in food or grocery stalls but cannot be used for garment stalls.”