Vabablu Mandal, 18, has travelled all the way from his home town in Jharkhand to sell toy fans (kattadi) made of bamboo and paper on the streets here. His trip to the city for the second successive year during Onam festival threatens to be a wash out for no fault of his.

The City Corporation's decision not to allow migrant vendors from other States to set up shops on the streets has come as a blow to scores of hawkers like Vabablu who had hoped to cash in on the seasonal spurt in demand during the Onam festival. Citing security reasons, the city police had advised the local body against issuing permits to migrant hawkers.

Vabablu is ignorant of the licensing system introduced by the Corporation for street vendors. He only knows that the police had asked him to pack up and leave when he was selling toys in the busy Chalai area two days ago. He maintains that he would roam about peddling toys.

A frail bachelor, Vabablu is the youngest of his parents' four sons. The other three are farmers. After completing his tenth standard, Vabablu has been going around, looking for a job. He dreams of setting up a shop in Jharkhand to look after his aged parents.

Selling toys yields a meagre profit of Rs.50 a day. Vabablu has to spend Rs.300 a month on rent for lodging at a small house at Uchakada which he shares with 20 others.

Most of the migrant vendors who have descended on the city to make the most of the Onam season are disappointed.

Kalu, 27, another vendor from Jharkhand, also sells toys. Unlike Vabablu, he is married and has a four- year-old daughter. His wife makes beedis to supplement the family income.

B. Raman, 25, from Visakhapatnam has been coming to Kerala for the last three years to cash in on the sales boom during the Onam season.

His family consisting of parents, wife, and two children, is dependent on the income he earns from selling plastic hammocks and swings on the streets here. Raman lives in a lodge at Thampanoor, sharing room space with eight others who also move from one State to another. Nijamuddin from Jaipur in Rajasthan vends small drums made of goat skin. The 17-year-old makes the drum himself with materials sourced from Delhi and Uttar Pradesh.