Hawkers pin hope on central vendors Bill

Members of National Association of Street Vendors of India (NASVI) believe that approval of the draft of a comprehensive Bill for hawkers by the law ministry is a “milestone” in their struggle for a central street vendor law.

According to a NASVI member, the draft prepared by the Ministry of Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation has been cleared by the law ministry, accepting all their demands apart from two clauses.

“The two demands which were not accepted were earmarking of at least 2 per cent of space of the street for vending and including railway vendors also under this law.

However the ministry officials were of the view that the railway vendors comes under the railway ministry and convincing them may take time,” said the member.

The members hope that the draft street vendors (Protection and Livelihood and Regulation of Street Vending) Bill, which will now go to the Cabinet, will be introduced in the Monsoon session of Parliament.

Under the proposed law, anyone over 18 years of age can apply and register as a street vendor on payment of one-time fee. Once registered, they will be given identity cards entitling them to sell their wares in specified vending zones.

Besides, it mandates municipalities to set up restriction free vending zones/ night bazaars where vendors can sell their wares.

The proposed law also has clear provisions for protecting and promoting weekly and natural markets, besides grievance redressal mechanisms and transparency laws.

“We have been raising this matter of a central bill since 2009. In May 2011, National Advisory Council (NAC) passed it calling it that the law should be under the central government as it talks about the fundamental right of livelihood.

This February when we saw the first draft of the bill, we disagreed to it as it did not include several important factors,” said the member.

The first draft did not have clause for effective grievance redressal mechanism, night bazar protection and promotion which were incorporated later in the bill.

As per the 2004 census, there are more than 10 million urban street vendors. “We estimate it has now increased to 13 million.

A uniformed law for the street vendors of the country will help in regulation and lessen the harassment at the hands of authorities which many vendors have to face everyday,” added the member.

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