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May 24, 2018
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Going gets tough for vendors near CharminarRamzan shopping prospects look bleak with ban on vehicles owing to CPP

Hours to go for the sighting of crescent moon to mark the beginning of Ramzan, the streets radiating from Charminar turn noisy. There is jostling as people try to stand around the monument to click photographs and selfies, while dozens of hawkers heckle tourists and visitors to buy stuff as they try to keep a wary eye on policemen who shoo them to designated areas. “Most of my time is spent setting up my stall and running away from constables. There is no respite. Earlier, I used to do business till midnight and during Ramzan till 2 a.m., but now, I am done by 9 p.m. This area is virtually deserted by 10 p.m.,” says Prakash Yadav, who carts his mobile pani puri stall on his head around Charminar dodging police and fighting with other hawkers.

“I am doing 30% to 40% business that I used to do when vehicles were allowed in this area. Now, only tourists walk here. They look around, admire the craftsmanship and the art, but very few buy them. A few of them pick up some articles for gifting. All our local customers are gone. Summer wedding season and Ramzan used to be the best time for us. Now I cannot see any spurt in sales,” says Naseer of Kareem Bangles and Jewellery at Lad Bazaar. The same gloomy mood prevails among the fruit vendors, jewellery sellers and trinket sellers in the area.

The Charminar Pedestrianisation Project appears to have achieved its first goal of removing vehicles from the traffic mix around the iconic monument.

But shop owners, hawkers and vendors have been hit badly. Even fruit vendors, who jostled for business on the roads almost reaching Charminar by midnight, say residents from the surrounding areas of Moghalpura, Kotla Ali Jah, Shah Gunj, Mir Chowk have stopped buying from them.

While some of the pushcart vendors were relocated to the vacant bus station area, they have returned to the Charminar area by securing stay orders from the High Court. Parking in the Old City during the peak of Ramzan shopping was always an issue, but this year, it will likely be more challenging.

Parking lots

“Parking is likely to be a problem after a fortnight. We have three designated parking lots where a few hundred cars and two-wheelers can be parked. One is at the Ayurvedic Hospital, which is a paid parking area, while the old bus stand is the free parking area. Visitors to the area can also park their vehicles near the Muslim Jung bridge. We have to make do with what we have,” says Srinivasa Rao of Charminar traffic police station.

It remains to be seen how the month-long Ramzan shopping fiesta pans out with limited parking area, restricted traffic movement and pedestrian-only space.