Odisha’s capital city of Bhubaneswar has come out with a well-thought out strategy to give space for street vendors, yet save pavements for walkers. In December 2006, the Bhubaneswar Municipal Corporation came up with the concept of a Vending Zone to de-clutter central Bhubaneswar and at the same time, rehabilitate street vendors. The concept appeared to be a win-win situation for both vendors and the administration. Vendors were allotted a vacant space nearer to the main road. In return, they were asked to ensure the stretch they vacated remained encroachment-free.

The BMC continued to act as a facilitator and so far, the city that has 60 municipal wards has as many as 54 vending zones accommodating about 2,300 vendors. But the task remains incomplete as the city has a total of about 23,000 street vendors.

“Now, each ward needs to have at least three vending zones with each zone accommodating about 100 vendors so that about 18,000 vendors can be rehabilitated in the process,” said Pratap Kumar Sahu, president of All Odisha Roadside Vendors’ Association.

As regards the remaining vendors, Mr. Sahu said they can be identified as mobile vendors selling specific items in specified areas of the city. “If the BMC continues its efforts to achieve the target, Bhubaneswar can become the first hawker-free city in the country,” he said.

Going by the number of vendors waiting for rehabilitation, the BMC has a long way to go. But it has been successful in making the roadsides in prime localities of the capital encroachment-free, thereby adding to the city’s beauty and making it safe and trouble-free for pedestrians.

The town vending committee of the BMC, which was formed as per the Odisha Urban Street Vendors Policy, 2012, is now in the process of identifying the street vendors.

At least 19 of the 54 vending zones were all set to get sanitation and garbage dumping facilities. BMC was one of the 40 urban local bodies in the country selected by the Union Ministry of Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation to revamp street vending.

The concept, however, has some inherent flaws. Some zones were established without the allocation of enough parking space. As a result, people who come to these zones park their vehicles on road. The competition among street vendors to be rehabilitated in vending zones is also yet to be addressed.

If vending zones with adequate parking space and proper identification of vendors are set up, they would work wonders.

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