NDMC may evict 3,000 vendors at India Gate

India Gate, a proud symbol of the capital that attracts visitors in droves, has been a source of livelihood for vendors selling everything from knick-knacks to food and drink.

The place is at once a picnic spot and a walkers’ paradise on pleasant evenings.This popular rendezvous may turn into history if the city's civic body goes ahead with its plan to evict around 3,000 vendors from the India Gate stretch.

According to the vendors, the city police have been asking them to leave since the first week of June. They had been set a deadline - June 20, that is today. “The police claim the Lieutenant Governor's office has notified them that the India Gate has become a garbage dump due to littering and lack of waste disposal system. When we ask them to show us the notice, they refuse,” said a vendor.

According to National Association of Street Vendors of India (NASVI), although there are certain areas in and around Connaught Place (CP) which have been declared as no vending zones by the Supreme Court, the India Gate stretch is a regulated vending zone. “We got to know that the New Delhi Municipal Council (NDMC) has suddenly decided to declare this stretch also as no vending zone. As per SC guidelines, this area is a regulated vending zone where stop gap arrangements should be made in round abouts and other sensitive areas and vendors should not be allowed only there,” said Ranjit Abhigyan, program manager, NASVI.

The vendors feel that a sudden order of eviction will be a blow to their livelihood as they don't belong to any established market. “It is not our responsibility to keep the place clean. We make sure that we keep dustbins near our carts. If visitors are littering the place, why should we be blamed,” asked another vendor.

The vendors say an eviction drive of this magnitude has never happened before. “The cops occasionally used to ask some vendors to leave; when those vendors gave them more money, they were allowed to stay. These days we have to pay anywhere between Rs 1000-3000 to the police,” said a vendor.

In 2007, many of these vendors applied for licences but only 45 got licences. Now, NASVI has submitted a memorandum urging the intervention of Urban Development Minister Kamal Nath and Minister for Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation Kumari Selja.

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