Street vendors have nowhere to go

Street vendors have nowhere to go

Demarcated place

Street vendors have nowhere to go

The Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) may have managed to evict street vendors from the pavements in the City’s main thoroughfares but now, it looks like the street vendors have begun encroaching the pavements in residential areas leaving pedestrians with no choice but to walk on roads.  

The BBMP doesn’t have a clear-cut policy when it comes to ensuring equal space to both street vendors and pedestrians.  M Lakshminarayana, BBMP commissioner says, “We are not evicting, dislocating or causing any harm to street vendors. We are only regulating them to make sure they don’t eat into pedestrian space.”

The National Policy on Urban Street Vendors, 2009, Government of India Ministry of Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation recognises the positive role of street vendors in providing essential commodities to people at affordable prices and convenient places.

The policy clearly states, “The need for regulation of street vending by way of designated ‘restriction-free vending’, ‘restricted vending’ and ‘no-vending’ zones based on certain objective principles. This will ensure free flow of traffic, smooth movement of pedestrians and maintenance of cleanliness on pavements.” Why not redesign the pavements in such a way that there is enough space for pedestrians to walk?

“Street vendors must be provided at least 50 per cent space on pavements but we will look into the matter only when the need arises. The present arrangement seems alright although pedestrians are forced to negotiate their way on pavements,” he says. He also concedes that constricting pedestrian paths is an issue that needs to be addressed.

 Vinay Sreenivasa, member of Beedhi Vyaaparigala Hakkotaya Andolana, wonders why the BBMP is not implementing the National Policy on Urban Street Vendors in the City. “Instead of evicting the vendors and snatching away their livelihood, why not redesign the pavements in such a way that it provides enough room for both pedestrians and vendors,” he questions. He observes that the BBMP authorities are widening the roads but leave the pavements in a poor condition. “Why not do up the pavements along with the roads,” he wonders.

While people sympathise with street vendors, they are clearly unhappy with pedestrian paths being encroached. Soumya, a professional feels, “Street vendors think it’s their monopoly and don’t give enough space to the common man to walk. Fruits and vegetable street vendors are stationed on the pavement unlike cart vendors who can move from one place to another.” Anish David, a software professional reasons, “I’ve seen fruit-sellers, puncture-makers and people pursuing small businesses in their makeshift shops on pavements.

This restricts pedestrian movement and we are forced to walk on the road. The authorities should find a place exclusively for street vendors.”

The street vendors state that they are harassed by both the BBMP and traffic cops. They say that they are forced to grease the palms of officials to let them carry on with their business. Mutthu, a street vendor, has been making steaming hot idlis, dosas and selling vegetables on the side for close to 30 years now in Malleswaram. “I live 40 kilometres away from here. My son and I push our cart up to this place every day.

There is nothing more gratifying then our profession but we have to battle to get through a day. Cops come knocking and sometimes demand food for free. We should have a space of our own,” he wraps up.

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