HYDERABAD: Despite the claims of senior officers, collection of monthly ‘mamools’ (slang for corruption money) by traffic police from petty vendors is continuing unabated in the capital.
Vendors are being allowed to continue their business only after coughing up anywhere between Rs.400 to Rs.600 per month out of
their meagre earnings. If they fail to pay this amount they are forced to compensate police in kind or are being fined repeatedly. In
some instances, where the vendors try to evade their demands, the police literally chase these vendors away or seize their merchandise.
Police authorities can remove anything that causes obstruction to the vehicular traffic under Section 39(b) of Hyderabad City Police Act.
To guide the police, municipal authorities have specified areas where hawkers and pushcarts can be allowed by delineating Green, Amber and Red zones.
Green is a free zone where hawkers can be allowed to do business without any problem, Amber zone is an area where vendors will be allowed only on specific days and timings and Red is a restricted area where no business should be allowed.
Since not many people know these zones, some police personnel are threatening vendors that their wares will be seized even though they are in green zone while others are allowing vendors to operate even in red zone, a police personnel said.
“Saifabad area, under which Necklace Road and adjoining areas fall, is placed under red zone. But even a casual visitor can see that the area has many pushcart vendors and hawkers. Some officials have specialised in formulating the exact amount that one has to pay and the days this amount should be collected,” he explained.
“Vendors would like to do their business on the roads where there is good traffic as they can expect better sales there. They sometimes obstruct traffic, but police personnel are cashing in on this eagerness among vendors to mint some money,” the official said.
But while some policemen are making quick moolah, it is the petty vendors who are in tight spot. “We hardly earn enough to feed our family even after struggling for whole day. With these demands from traffic police our earnings are now under a squeeze,” Mohammed Ishfaq a flower seller in old city said. The pressure for giving bribes has increased recently, he added.
Most vendors pointed out that enforcement authorities seize their pushcarts along with the goods, which are mostly perishable. “Once the cart is confiscated, it’s a Herculean task to get it back from the police station. Even after the pushcart is brought back, most of the goods get damaged resulting in losses,” a vendor argued. Rather than facing these hassles, vendors prefer to heed to the police demands, he said.
“Even bystanders can observe police taking away our goods for failing to pay the bribe. It has indeed become a common practice,” he rued.
- No respite to petty vendors as ‘mamools’ continue (thehindu.com)