Cops Pull Down New Mkt Plastic, Clear Parking Lots | Kolkata News – Times of India

Kolkata: Police on Thursday pulled down the plastic sheets that hawkers on Bertram Street, Hogg Street, Humayun Place and Lindsay Street used to wrap their fares and stalls before leaving at night, a practice that turned the entire New Market area into a veritable tinderbox. Police also ensured that hawkers cleared a section of these roads to allow movement and parking of vehicles, at least till evening.
The action was taken after police had a talk with the unions on Wednesday, a day after West Bengal Heritage Commission chairman Suvaprasanna met KMC mayor Firhad Hakim to discuss remedial steps for the heritage market that will turn 150 in 2024.
Suvaprasanna had expressed concerns about New Market being hemmed in on all sides by hawkers, who not only usurped parking lots and blocked vehicle movements, but also made the entire shopping hub vulnerable to fire as they covered their stalls in highly inflammable plastic sheets. Following a call from Hakim to the police commissioner on Wednesday evening, officers from the New Market PS met hawkers in a few hours and convinced them to “push back” to ensure the carriageway was not completely encroached upon.
While some parking lots around New Market were reclaimed on Thursday, police said hawkers would be cleared from the other places after Puja. The current focus, officers said, was on clearing the fire-hazard plastic sheets. “After any major fire in the city, we worry about the fate of our market should a plastic sheet catches fire from a cigarette,” said a member of SS Hogg Market Traders’ Association, which has been pleading with the KMC market department to remove plastic.
On Thursday, cops from the New Market police station paid a surprise visit to find hawkers creating space for parking. Most had removed plastic sheets though cops had to intervene in some cases. “We will keep a watch to ensure hawkers don’t bring back the plastic or occupy the carriageway,” said an officer. A KMC market official said the market superintendent at New Market and the market sergeants have been asked to keep a separate watch. “We have asked market officials to ensure the gates are free for customers’ access,” he said.