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In an effort to ensure pedestrian safety, the Bengaluru Traffic Police launched a “Reclaim Footpath” special drive, in collaboration with the city’s civic body, to clear footpaths of all encroachments on Monday.

This will not only ensure a safe path for pedestrians but also prevent them from walking on the road endangering their lives, M. N. Anucheth, Joint Commissioner of Police (Traffic) said. However, the special drive has drawn the ire of street vendor unions as many street vendors termed “unauthorised” were evicted from the city’s streets on Monday during the drive.

Even though 35% to 40% of the deaths on the city’s streets are pedestrians, BTP has been flooded with complaints during their monthly Janasamparka Sabhe’s that footpaths are not accessible to pedestrians, especially senior citizens, prompting BTP to launch the drive. “While we clear footpaths of illegally parked vehicles, civic officials will clear unauthorised hawkers with no valid licences, who are encroaching pathways and posing a threat to pedestrians,” a senior traffic police official said.

As part of the campaign, all 48 jurisdictional traffic police station officials have been directed to identify encroached footpaths and clear them, one each day, till all footpaths are cleared of encroachments. During this process, the police have also been asked to conduct an audit on the requirement of footpaths and necessary repairs required, in coordination with the local civic officials, Mr. Anucheth said.

Data shows that as many as 248 pedestrians were killed and over 800 of them were injured in accidents reported in the city in 2022. Absence of footpaths and zebra crossings also add woes to the road users. The drive is aimed at minimising the fatalities of pedestrians.

Meanwhile, what has raised hackles is the eviction of street vendors. Hawkers and street vendors who are encroaching footpaths, do not have valid ID cards, have been warned to vacate and repeat offenders will be booked, in coordination with the civic body. They have also been evicted in many places on Monday, a senior traffic police official said. Meanwhile, Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) also launched the drive in Yelahanka zone clearing encroachments including evicting street vendors from a stretch of the main road in Jakkur.

Vinay Srreenivasa, of Bruhat Bengaluru Beedi Badi Vyaparigala Okkuta, said the Street Vendors (Protection of Livelihood and Regulation of Street Vending) Act, 2014 did not allow for such one-sided eviction and said they should ideally be issued notices before evicting them. “The argument that we are evicting only those with no ID cards and are hence unauthorised doesn’t hold much water. The last survey of street vendors was carried out in 2017 and issued ID cards to only 25,000 vendors when there were an estimated 1.5 lakh vendors in the city. Street vending has increased post the pandemic and despite promises for over a year now, no new survey has been conducted. Traffic Police, if they have any complaints against hawking, they need to attend Town Vending Committee meetings in their zones and flag them there, which they do not do, but evict them unilaterally,” he said.

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Police rehabilitate beggars

Bengaluru: Yeshwanthpur Traffic Police, took up a unique initiative as part of the Reclaim Footpath drive, to rehabilitate destitutes and beggars on the footpaths near the Yeswanthpur Railway Station on Monday. The idea was also to save them from being killed in accidents due to jay-walking, after two such cases where these destitutes living on pavements were killed in accidents were reported in the area recently.

Raghvendra B.R, Traffic Police Inspector, Yeshwanthpur, said that these destitutes were counselled, given food and sent to Beggars Rehabilitation Centre Centre so that they were treated well and did not fall prey to accidents.

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