“I pay a rent of Rs 3,000 a month to the ‘agent’ in-charge of Usman Road. Every shopkeeper in this stretch pays rent according to the size of the shop,” says Kumaran, a hawker who sells jewellery and fancy items. Those who cannot pay the rent are often harassed to move and find a new place every day. Rani, a flower seller who sits near a temple, says, “I was asked to pay Rs 1,000 a month to sit next to a footwear hawker at T Nagar. The man who runs the show stall told me that he himself pays Rs 4,000 rent to keep his shop in that location. When I told him I can’t afford it, he asked me to move,” she said. Members of the T Nagar Residents Welfare Association have been fighting a long battle to free the neighbourhood from illegal encroachments. “Each hawker here makes Rs 5,000 every day. During festivals, their margin is almost triple. A hawker by definition is a peddler. They don’t pay any tax or bills and it’s the residents who suffer,” says B. Kannan, Secretary of the association. According to a police officer, this money ultimately goes to the local councillors and they can’t take action unless an official decision is taken.