With loud firecrackers and distribution of sweets, several street vendors gathered on Thursday to celebrate the passing of the Street Vendors (Protection of Livelihood and Regulation of Street Vending) Bill, 2012.

The Bill, which was passed by the Lok Sabha on September 6, proposes that street vendors register themselves with a ‘Town Vending Committee’ to get legal sanctity for the trade.

The street vendors who gathered under the banner of Centre of Indian Trade Unions hailed the legislation as bringing them freedom from the oppressive harassment of police and Mangalore City Corporation officials.

Saul Hamid, a vendor of small utensils and brushes at Market Road near Lady Goschen for the past decade, said police officials and “tiger truck” (a vehicle dedicated to curbing street vending) of the Corporation routinely displace his mat or seize his goods. “With this bill, we can get a legitimate permit, and perhaps, even a permanent place where we can hawk in peace,” he said.

While commending the passage of the bill, CITU District Secretary Vasantha Achari said the parliament had heard the pleas of millions of hawkers who had participated in protests, hunger strikes among others in their demand for rights. “However, it should be implemented justly, and further harassment should not come during its implementation by MCC,” he said.

A major point of concern for the group was that the Town Vending Committees does not have representation of street vendors. “Instead, the MCC Commissioner, Mayor, and police officials dominate the committee. We have seen how committees such as these work…They schedule one meeting, and then no news is heard of this committee,” said Sunil Kumar Bajal, honorary president of the Street Vendors Association, Mangalore.

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