Main commercial areas are not part of identified vending zones

Street vendors owing allegiance to the CITU-affiliated Podhu Thozhilalargal Sangam staged a demonstration in the city on Wednesday opposing any move to displace them from the city’s main commercial area, under the pretext of implementing the National Policy on Urban Street Vendors.

The agitation held near Chinthamani by vendors mostly operating in and around the NSB Road, comes in the wake of the City Corporation’s recent attempts to regulate street vendors by notifying vending zones and introducing a licence system.

The Corporation has identified about 80 vending zones in the city. This includes 20 places in Srirangam zone, 15 in Golden Rock, 37 in Ariyamangalam, and eight in K. Abishekapuram zone, where vendors will be allowed to operate. All other places in the city are to be treated as non-vending zones.

The list of vending zones identified by the corporation does not include the city’s main commercial area such as the NSB Road, Big Bazaar Street, Singarathope, and Nandhi Kovil Street, where a large number of vendors operate.

According to sources, the civic body has identified a few places, including the Old Goodshed Road, to relocate the vendors.

“The National Policy on Urban Street Vendors recognises street vending as an integral part of the urban retail trade. As per the policy and the directive of the Supreme Court, the livelihood of vendors should be protected without displacing them from their place of operation. But the Corporation, under the pretext of easing traffic congestion, is attempting to displace street vendors from the main commercial areas of the city,” said Ansardeen, district president, Podhu Thozhilalargal Sangam.

The Corporation, he alleged, is trying to shift the vendors to Sankaran Pillai Street, Babu Road, Old Goodshed Road, Beerangikulatheru and East Boulevard Road. “Street vendors will go out of business as these areas are away from the main commercial areas of the city. People visiting the shops, tourists and casual visitors constitute the customer base of street vendors. No one will come specifically in search of the small vendors,” he said.

The association demanded that street vendors be allowed to ply their trade at their existing place of operation. The Corporation should first form the Town Vending Committee, as mandated under the national policy, with adequate representation for the vendors to take up a consultative process, the association demanded.

S.Sridhar, district secretary, CPI (M), and CITU office bearers also participate in Wednesday’s agitation in support of the vendors.