1227 GMT February 24, 2020
Delhi government officials have set up Town Vending Committees (TVC), which will survey hawkers in the city and then issue vending certificates to give them the right to do business from a fixed spot, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said, Reuters.com reported.
With Asian towns and cities expanding and striving to become more international and attract investment, street vendors and hawkers are viewed increasingly as a hindrance to city planning.
Vendors selling everything from snacks and tea to toys and clothes are a common sight in India’s cities, with items for sale spread out on pavements or in mobile carts.
The Street Vendors’ Act was introduced by federal lawmakers in 2014 to help protect the country’s hawkers from eviction, with states required to establish hawking zones, set up TVCs and issue licenses.
Unlicensed hawkers are often targeted for bribes by criminals or corrupt officials and police, and flee eviction drives which are becoming more common as cities modernize and competition for space grows from pedestrians and cars.
“The law emerged after a long struggle for improved livelihood security, legality and protection from eviction,” said Shivani Chaudhry, executive director of the Housing and Land Rights Network, a non-profit in Delhi.
“Street vendors form the backbone of the city economy. Non-implementation of the law has resulted in their continued persecution, including arbitrary evictions, and lack of recognition of their rights,” she said.
No states had fully implemented the 2014 act, according to the National Association of Street Vendors of India (NASVI).
Members of NASVI, who are staging a protest in Delhi on Thursday against the slow rollout of the law, said there was still no detailed plan for its implementation in the capital.
Delhi has now set up 28 TVCs with representatives from street vendors, the municipal commission, police and town planners, who will conduct the survey.
But there are few other details on the law’s rollout, said Arbind Singh, a coordinator for NASVI.
“The same authorities promised implementation five years ago. Now, with local elections in Delhi due soon, the promise of implementation looks to be just a political gimmick,” he said, referring to polls due by February next year.
“Meanwhile, evictions continue - so we are very skeptical.”