Finally, protection for livelihood

National issue

It’s his everyday task – arrange all the raw materials, his portable gas and a few baskets and he is good at setting up his small stall selling traditional Bengali snacks in Mayur Vihar Extension.

Ironically, putting up a stall  and being self-sufficient does not end Dinesh Gope’s problems. Although he is quite popular among the junk food-lovers of the area, the harassment by the police and corporation makes his life quite miserable. 

Dinesh and thousands of other vendors in the City have suffered the same level of harassment that is the lot of poor street vendors – giving daily/monthly hafta to the police, sundry municipal corporation officials – just to be able to put up their little stall on the street. But Dinesh is a relieved man now because the Parliament has finally passed the Street Vendors (Protection of Livelihood and Regulation of Street Vending) Bill, which will provides protection of livelihoods rights, social security of street vendors and for regulation of urban street vending in the country.

Hailing the Parliament decision, Dinesh says, he was fed up of giving money to police personnel, corporation officials and even to the sweepers and garbage collectors. “Whether you earn well or not, you have to empty your pockets, otherwise you can’t survive. The police personnel take hafta from us and even eat food for free. They even get their fellow policemen to eat free food.

And the problem is that you cannot say no to them. Even the sweeper, who has been assigned to sweep and clean the area asks for money before doing so. It is a vicious circle ”  rues Dinesh.

“The MCD (Municipal Corporation of Delhi) officials are also no less. They decide the amount of hafta according to the type of stall you have. For example, a stall selling Chinese food will give more hafta than a stall selling tea. They have our phone numbers too and if we don’t pay a visit to them, they call themselves and ask for the money,” reveals Dinesh.

The provisions of the Bill are aimed at creating ‘a working’ atmosphere for street vendors and give them designated spaces to carry out their businesses. The Bill will also provide for constituting of a Town Vending Authority in each locality who will determine natural markets for the vendors, identify vending zones, prepare other plans and also conduct survey of street vendors.

Arvind Singh, national coordinator of National Association of Street Vendors of India (NASVI), said, “The ‘certificate of vending’ will make them legal now. It will also give them dignity. This certificate will be given to all existing vendors depending on the holding capacity of an area.

Under this, it will also have Town Vending Committee in each city which will have 40 per cent representatives from the Street Vendor Association, out of which 30 per cent will be women vendors, 10 per cent from the civil society and rest 50 per cent will be other stakeholders, like MCD officers, police personnel, land-holding authorities, etc. According the Bill, every city will have another committee, which will be headed by a judge who will listen to their grievances. And finally, we hope this will end the hafta culture in our City.” The minimum amount taken by the police from each vendor is at least Rs 5,000 per month.

According to Harsh Shrivastava, Chief Operating Officer (COO) of Centre for Civil Society, “This decision is very beneficial for all vendors in the City. It wil help them expand in the future which was not possible in the past as they were illegal. Now, a vendor can expand his thela and make a bigger shop because they will be having
the licence.”

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