Street Vendors Bill, residents' headache

Harish Chander Chugh is a retired Border Security Force Officer settled in Kasturba Niketan Complex in Lajpat Nagar since the past 7 years. His neighbourhood is frequented by families from countries such as Afghanistan and Iran for getting better medical treatment in ndian hospitals.

When they rent these properties, they automatically attract a lot of attention from vendors and hawkers for getting services at their doorstep. While, Harish Chander finds the incessant intrusion of vendors in his space a nuisance, he adds, “Water meters outside the houses get stolen frequently in this area. The permanent settlers here try and keep these hawkers at bay to avoid this problem. But with a legislation that makes it their right to vend in our area and keep an eye on our day-to-day lives, how would we control it anymore.”

Like Harish, Arun Gupta, the President of Residents Welfare Association( RWA) of Lajpat Nagar is equally perturbed about the passing of the Street Vendors (Protection of Livelihood and Regulation of Street Vending Bill), 2013 in Lok Sabha. “There’s already a commercial market (Central Market) for them, wherein they encroach upon the passages as well. There are a lot of vendors who take up vending to hide their identities. If you give them a right to be in our areas by giving them licences, it will only promote criminal activities,” says the president, adding that it’s nothing but a tactic to woo voters ahead of the elections.

Amidst so much resentment against the bill from residents, Ranjit Abhigyan, the programme manager of National Association of Street Vendors in India (NASVI) explains, “All these problems are a result of unregulated growth of vendors. If street vending is made just and proper by providing licenses through Town Vending Committee and demarcation of vending zones could be efficiently executed, there would be no such concerns.”

Ranjit’s views find resonance in the opinion of M.K Oberoi, the president of Karol Bagh RWA, “We had long back introduced timings and identity cards for the vendors entering our block. It helps you to keep a check on their background as they migrate from different states of India. If it is being done for all the urban centers of the country, I think something good would come out of it.”

Yogendra Mann, the spokesperson for Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) says, “Whenever we get complaints about encroachment from residents, we organise drives to curb this problem. Even shopkeepers are not allowed to encroach upon the right of way. Now, we shall start carrying out surveys to demarcate restricted zones and limited vending zones to depute vendors accordingly.”

The bill states that every city will have a town vending committee( TVC) comprising 40 per cent of elected representatives of street vendors, alongside local authorities, NGOs, police and resident welfare associations. TVC would survey the areas and demarcate vendors according to the zones, keeping in mind that only 2.5 per cent of a city’s population would be eligible for a vending certificate. When the law gets executed, Delhi would have 3.75 lakhs registered and licensed vendors working in the city. 

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