As traffic congestion in front of City Center, a popular shopping mall in Siliguri, on National Highway-31, grows by the day, the Public Works Department (PWD) has said it will coordinate with the shopping complex over the eviction of illegal encroachment outside it near Uttarayon.

The upcoming project for widening of the National Highway-31 will need eviction of the illegal establishments around the shopping mall area, PWD officials said.

“We have served notices to the encroachers (who have set up shop there) as part of the proposed plan of widening the NH-31 after it gets a final nod.

We will evict the shops and temporary structures in and around the areas. There are many encroachers there, while we will act against them once the project gets a final approval,” said an official of the department.

Asked who granted them permission to set up their shops there, a vendor said, “We have a person who looks after all these issues and grants space to us, and we pay accordingly. We do not have any link with the shopping mall authorities.”

A management level official at City Center, Mahesh Pradhan, too said, “We do not have anything to do with the vendors outside the shopping complex.

It is the work of the Highway authorities to see who does what on the roads.” It may be mentioned here that much of the blame for the traffic congestion outside the mall, especially during weekends, is being laid on the said encroachment as well as the not-so-properly-managed bus stop and the traffic point at City Center.

Meanwhile, asked about the illegal encroachment contributing to the ongoing traffic problems on NH-31, Siliguri Metropolitan Police (SMP), Commissioner, Sunil Kumar Choudhary, said he will look into the matter.

“Apparently the shopping complex does contribute to the traffic congestion on NH31, and we will investigate the matter and act accordingly,” Mr Choudhary said.