Minister to hand over pushcarts to 7 vendors

The city Corporation’s ‘Suvidha’ project to provide modern pushcarts, official registration, identity cards, and uniforms to street vendors will finally take off on Tuesday after a delay of close to three years.

Urban Affairs Minister Manjalamkuzhi Ali will inaugurate the project at the Museum gate at 11 a.m. by handing over pushcarts to seven vendors.

The Rs.1.5-crore project is implemented under the poverty social fund of the Kerala State Urban Development Project (KSUDP).

“The carts are being manufactured by SIDCO. Each of these costs Rs.98,000. Since this is the pilot phase, we decided to launch it on the road directly opposite the Corporation, so that officials can keep track of its effectiveness. Considering the feedback of these vendors, we will decide on any changes to be made to the carts,” Welfare standing committee chairperson Palayam Rajan said.

He said that in the next phase, carts would be distributed to 50 more vendors at Shanghumughom, medical college, and Museum. The plan was to distribute the carts to a total of 176 vendors.

Delay

The project, announced in 2011, was delayed owing to confusion in choosing beneficiaries and an implementing agency.

“This delay is a prime example of inefficiency of Corporation officials. Many committees were constituted, many discussions happened, but everything remained on paper. We even gave them a list of all vendors in the city. Now, they are giving it only to seven vendors. The rest might have to wait for years, at this pace,” Kerala Street Vendors’ Forum district committee president C. Sadashivan Nair said.

He said that many street vendors were evicted in the past few weeks, despite protests from various organisations. Two weeks ago, a tea vendor at Palayam was forcibly evicted a day before the inauguration of a major textile shop. This attitude of treating street vendors as ‘eyesores’ did not help, Mr. Sadashivan said.

“The same day, they evicted a few other shops at PMG, just to make it look like a general eviction drive, and not one for the sake of this new textile shop. These drives are a clear violation of the Supreme Court directive that vendors can be evicted only after providing them an alternative space. The local body, the Public Works Department, and other agencies point fingers at each other when we approach them,” he said.