HAWKERS PAVEMENTS

Mumbai
1968

In the crowded centres of Indian cities, pavements are used intensively: during the day they are crowded with hawkers so that pedestrians are forced onto the road, blocking the traffic lanes. As evening falls, the hawkers gather their possessions and go home – to be replaced by people unfolding their beddings for a night’s rest. These night people are not pavement dwellers (who are another group altogether), but mostly domestic servants and office boys who have to share a room in their places of work where they keep their belongings and use city pavements for sleeping. This allows them to economise on their living expenses. Furthermore, on hot sultry nights, sleeping outdoors is a more attractive proposition than the crowded airless room: that they have to do so under unhygienic conditions with the public walking right amongst (and over) them is truly reprehensible. This project in 1968 recommended to the Bombay Municipal Corporation an experimental modification in one of the city’s principal streets (Dadabhai Naoroji Road) in order to deal with both the hawkers during the day and the sleepers at night. What was proposed was a line of platforms 2m wide & 0.6m high, with water taps placed at approximately intervals of 30m. During the day these platforms would be used by the hawkers – thus clearing the pavements and the arcades for pedestrians. (The platform would also act as a safety barrier between pedestrians and vehicular traffic). In the evening, at about sunset, the taps would be turned on and the platforms washed clean by municipal sweepers. They would then provide convenient otlas (platforms) for people to sleep – out of the path of any pedestrians walking home at night.

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