Activist fighting hawker mafia gets no help from CST

RBI employee says hawkers harass women and block commuter movement, but railway official says it’s not in his jurisdiction.

10-01मुंबई Mumbai:  A citizen activist has complained to the top brass of Central Railway on how the hawker mafia is proving to be a threat in several ways to the Mumbai Chhatrapati Shivaji railway terminus, a UNESCO world heritage site, from hammering nails into its structure to being a nuisance to women commuters.

Ramchandra Karve, an RBI employee and citizen activist, has also claimed that the building’s administrators have split the station into “territories”, leaving the hawker problem unattended.

Karve, who found several hawkers inside the station complex, said he was turned away by the station manager on Wednesday, who also refused to give him the complaint book saying managing hawkers did not fall under his jurisdiction.

“There should be a one-point command for a station of this size. This kind of separate territorial jurisdiction at a major station like Mumbai CST poses a serious threat to the safety of commuters and railway property,” Karve said in his complaint to the additional general manager, Central Railway.

The government railway police, railway protection force and the station staff have different sets of duties, many of which overlap leading to complications, his complaint claimed.

“At CST, the territorial jurisdiction of the RPF, GRP and the Station Manager is separated in such a manner that it gives free hand to undesirable elements such as hawkers to operate freely. Every afternoon, there are hawkers selling garments, leather belts, perfumes and other articles near the gate leading to the bus depot and in front of the station,” Karve said.

On April 23, Karve said he spotted hawkers inside the station premises and approached the Station Manager (Suburban) to register a complaint, but the official refused to let him access the complaint book.

“The official told me that the part of the station where I spotted hawkers didn’t fall under his jurisdiction. Multiple territorial jurisdictions within one station is that threat to commuters and railway property,” he added.

Central Railway chief spokesperson Narendra Patil said responsibilities have been clearly earmarked, and there is no confusion at any point. “There is no question of such threats arising. The divisional manager is the sole authority and the overall head,” Patil said.

However, the Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH) said any threat to the heritage structure should be taken seriously. “We have to take serious note of nails being hammered into the CST station building. It is an important city landmark and we were the ones who prepared the original plans and proposals for it to be included in the world heritage list. It is a shame the way this monumental structure is being treated,” said Tasneem Mehta on behalf of INTACH.