City corporation is expected to notify new vending zones approved recently

Street vendors in the city’s main commercial area, around Rockfort, are up in arms against the Tiruchirapalli city Corporation for excluding the entire area from the list of vending zones identified as required under the National Policy on Urban Street Vendors.

The NSB Road, Big Bazaar Street, Nandhi Kovil Street, and Singarathope, the city’s main business zone, is also the most congested. The teeming locality offers livelihood to scores of street vendors, selling anything from safety pins to cheap China-made household gadgets.

According to rough estimates, about 1,000 street vendors are believed to be operating in the locality. Shoppers who throng the major business houses in the area also form the clientele for the small vendors.

Some street vendors’ associations in the city have been pressing for the implementation of the national policy and had even approached the court. But the corporation move has come as a shocker to them. Street vendors point out that the national policy recognises street vending as an integral part of the urban retail trade and accords them legal status.

Under the policy, street vendors have to be enumerated ward wise, and each vendor registered by the town vending committee and issued identity card. The policy recommends that municipal authorities provide a range of civic services to street vendors, including allocation of designated areas for their trade.

But the corporation move now effectively seeks to displace a section of the street vendors. The corporation has identified about 80 places, 20 in Srirangam zone, 15 in Golden Rock, 37 in Ariyamangalam, and eight in K. Abishekapuram zone, where vendors will be allowed to do business. All other places are to be treated as non-vending zones. The list of vending zones was approved by the corporation council recently and is expected to be notified soon.

Expressing their disapproval, street vendors organised under Tiruchi Managara Tharaikadai Vyaparigal Sangam, affiliated to the CITU, are gearing up to launch an agitation. The association has already represented the matter to the district administration and awaiting its response.

“We heard that the corporation is planning to shift us to Sankaran Pillai Road, East Boulevard Road, Thippiran Chetti Street, Kallatheru, and other streets. We will not be able to attract buyers at any of these places. The national policy provides for enumerating and regulating street vendors at their existing place of business. It does not envisage shifting of vendors,” says A.Ansari, district organiser of the association.

Vendors are sore that the corporation did not consult them before finalising the vending zones. The vendors insist that they are willing to abide by any regulation that is to be brought in by the corporation to ease traffic congestion.

Most of them say that they require hardly three feet of space, whereas vehicles of visitors parked in front of big commercial houses, occupy more than five feet of the road space.

“We are even prepared to pay rent to the corporation. Let them allow us to earn our livelihood and live in peace,” says Rani, a vendor.

The vendors see the corporation move as an attempt to displace them under the pretext of regulation. They point out that almost all other areas, where vendors are operating in the city have been approved, and only the bazaar area has been excluded.

The vendors are in no mood to accept any alternative place. “That is unacceptable to us. We are in talks with other associations and we would launch a struggle if the corporation failed to pay heed to us,” says Ansari.

Corporation sources say that the civic body still has to go a long way in implementing the national policy and there is scope for considering the pleas of the vendors.