A proposal by the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation to extend the hawkers' zone in Mumbai to the posh residential area of Pali Hill has not gone down too well with the celebrity residents of the area.
Expressing grave displeasure on their behalf, Rishi Kapoor says, "I am all for jobs for the hawkers of Mumbai city. But they need proper areas to function. It makes no sense to bring them into residential areas where hawking is not the mode of business transaction. If you put up a makeshift cart for quick lunches, the ones to benefit from that transaction would be office-goers, who need to come out of work, grab a bite and go back to work. This just doesn't work in a residential colony."
Rishi sees the plan to introduce hawkers in his residential as vote-collecting plot. "You want to win over their votes. But at what cost? Pali Hill is colonized by actors and other celebrities like Sanjay Dutt, Anil Ambani and Aamir Khan. If the pavements are occupied by hawkers, commuters and passersby will simply stop for food and then stare at the stars. Khana bhi aur Khan bhi."
Rishi fears for the law and order situation. "I am not saying the hawkers would create an unsafe environment in our area. With hawkers around so many kinds of people would be swarming the streets. Why us in Pali Hill? Why don't they make Malabar Hill or Napean Sea Road a hawkers' zone?"
Rishi astutely points out that countries like Singapore, Malaysia and China have hawkers' markets. "These areas are specially designated for hawkers to sell their goods. You can't just decide one fine day to let hawkers into a residential colony just because it is good for the vote bank."
On Sunday, the Pali Hill residents have called for a meeting to decide a plan of action.
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