Hyderabad: Hawkers and pushcart vendors have complained of being exploited around the Hussainsagar. With special programmes being organised on the Tank Bund every Sunday, these small-time street-side entrepreneurs are being charged ‘rent’ unofficially, inquiries have revealed.
Hawkers and pushcart vendors say they are made to pay about 20 per cent of their income as bribe to HMDA and GHMC field staff, as well as to police personnel, to run their business smoothly. To make up for this, hawkers and vendors say they are forced to hike the prices for visitors.
Field inspections by a team of DC correspondents revealed that officials have been promoting the loot with a zero-check mechanism. They alleged that one Syed Mohammed owns at least 20 carts and has enhanced the rent.
Hawkers said that regardless of the business for the day, the owner has begun charging Rs 1,500 to Rs 2,000 daily, since the 'Sunday Funday’ programme, and other events, are bringing in people. The vendors said that during the Ganesha idol immersion, they made good income which was taken away by the local police and owners of the carts.
"We have been collecting Rs 10 to Rs 15 additionally for water bottles, ice-creams, packaged foods and chat, based on the demand. We have to pay the owner who in turn pays to HMDA staff," said Shabad, a pushcart vendor. He said that the owner would enhance the rent for the Sunday Funday programme.
"We have been paying 20 per cent of the income to police, GHMC and HMDA officials on a regular basis to avoid confrontation," said Ravie Kumar, who owns a cart on NTR Marg.
T. Sudheer, a visitor to NTR Gardens, said that a one-litre water bottle was being sold for Rs 30. “We are being looted by the governments through taxes, fuel price hike, traffic challans and now we have to pay unregulated prices to the vendors,” he alleged.
Vendors had got into a confrontation with tourists who asked about the enhanced prices. Sudheer said that the eateries do not have parking space, and traffic cops penalise vehicle owners for wrong parking.
Asked about the charges, officials said that it was on ‘humanitarian grounds’ that the HMDA was not collecting any fee from hawkers and vendors, and was encouraging them through programmes like Sunday Funday.
"Hawkers and vendors have got an inseparable connection to the city, especially on the banks of Hussainsagar. HMDA would not trouble them in any manner. However, since the issue was brought to our notice the department would keep a close eye on it," a senior HMDA official said.