Hyderabad: The Hyderabad Metropolitan Development Authority has ‘rented out’ footpaths on NTR Marg which has entertainment zones like NTR Gardens and Lumbini Park. With hawkers having to pay rent, they have begun overcharging tourists for packaged food and drinking water.
That is what the hawkers will have you believe, to force you to pay that much extra. Hawkers claimed that they were paying Rs 1,000 as rent to one Mahaboob Pasha who was providing carts for rent on the NTR Marg footpaths. Pushcart vendors said that to make up for this huge fee, they were collecting additional amou-nts from tourists and citizens who visit Lumbini Park and NTR Gardens and stop by for a bite.
“We have been collecting Rs 5 to Rs 10 additionally on product like water bottles, ice creams, chaat etc based on the demand. We have to pay the amounts to our owner who in turn is paying the HMDA to lease the footpaths,” said Mr Zakir Khan, a pushcart vendor. Mr Khan said Mr Mahaboob Pasha had asked them to sell the goods at enhanced prices.
But the truth was different. Authorities denied the claim of the vendors and said that the municipal authority had been not collecting any money from the hawkers, and the place was not to be rented out.
Mr M. Ramkishan of the HMDA said that the municipal authority had set up eateries and a canteen in NTR Garden and Lumbini Park. The HMDA was not collecting money but was allowing vendors to operate from the footpaths on humanitarian grounds. Mr Kishan said he would check if tourists were being looted and initiate action.
This apart, the HMDA and GHMC have been according permission to organisations to let out footpaths. Municipal administration principal secretary Arvind Kumar noticed way back in January that the Loo Cafe was located on the footpath and ordered it removed. The authorities have still not acted upon it. Tourists are falling prey to the nexus of staff and vendors.
“A one-litre water bottle is being sold for Rs 30. When we question them about the enhanced price, vendors say that the price is the same all along the stretch. Vendors have even entered into a confrontation with the tourists when they questioned the prices. We are forced to purchase foodstuffs on NTR Marg as there is not a single eatery for a four-kilometre radius,” said Mr Sudeep Jain, a visitor to NTR Gardens.
Deccan Chronicle found during a field survey that two persons who controlled eight pushcarts were renting them out and making money.
The mafia has been renting out the pushcarts for Rs 1,000 to Rs 1,500 based on the location on NTR Marg. They have been bribing HMDA and GHMC officials to be allowed to run their businesses....