Hawkers selling flowers outside the rear entrance of Siddhi Vinayak temple in Prabhadevi have been served an eviction notice by the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) and are expected to vacate the area soon. The notice was served on January 4 to 56 stalls, a small Church, an Aarey booth along with a PCO. The sellers were expected to vacate the area by January 6. However, after a weeklong delay, the BMC now plans to conduct the eviction drive on January 13.
“We were to evict the illegal hawkers on the 6th, however due to non-cooperation from the police, we could not do it. If we get police bandobast on the 13th we can go ahead with the drive,” claimed Bhagyashri Kapse, assistant municipal commissioner.
While the flower sellers believe the eviction is a result of the adjoining Metro 3 construction, Kapse clarifies that it has no relation with it.
“Their eviction is a pending matter for years now. Earlier, when we asked them to move out they approached the High Court, but the case was dismissed. If they aren’t evicted now it will be a matter of contempt of court,” explains Kapse.
Meanwhile, the flower sellers are worried about their livelihood. Most of the sellers have been in this business for decades.
“I have been selling flowers here since I was a child. If they vacate us where will we go and what will we do? This is our only source of income,” says Vishwanath Naik, a flower seller.
Desperate to save their livelihood the hawkers have approached political parties to help them. While some have reached out to Shiv Sena’s Uddhav Thackeray some others are seeking support from Maharashtra Navnirman Sena’s (MNS) Raj Thackeray.
“We will be arranging the flower sellers’ meeting with Raj Thackeray tomorrow to discuss the issue. If there are no sellers here where will the devotees get their flowers from?” says Yashwant Killedar, a local MNS leader.