The daily turnover of Indian hawkers is about Rs. 8,000 crore, but they continue to live in the margins. Hawkers in West Bengal plan to hit the streets on Nov. 24, asking the State government to implement a national policy.

Hawkers in West Bengal have once again demanded immediate implementation of the revised ’National Policy on Urban Street Vendors 2009’ in the State to protect their rights.

The revised policy underscored the need for a legislative framework to enable street vendors to pursue an honest living without harassment from any quarter.

Accordingly, a Model Street Vendors (Protection of Livelihood and Regulation of Street Vending) Bill, 2009 has been drafted. It has been forwarded by the Union Ministry of Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation to the States.

“Though in August this year, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had written to all Chief Ministers to implement the policy and take proactive action towards enacting a legislation based on the model bill, nothing has been done as yet by the West Bengal Government,” general secretary of the Hawker Sangram Committee, Saktiman Ghosh, said.

He said the HSC would hold a series of programmes to protest the delay in implementation of the policy.

“We will observe a ‘black day’ tomorrow by organising a march to the State secretariat and hold a sit-in-demonstration at the Kolkata Municipal Corporation on November 30 and take out a cycle rally on December 10 on International Human Rights Day to protest against the delay.”

The HSC would also organise a ‘Hawker Rath’ ending its month-long journey at the State assembly on March 1, 2010.

Mr. Ghosh, however, appreciated the Mayor of Kolkata Municipal Corporation for taking some initiatives to implement the policy at KMC level.

Regretting that the land, premises and trains owned by Indian Railways, its subsidiaries including public sector undertakings, corporations or other undertakings, where Indian Railways holds share, are exempted from the ambit of this policy, Mr. Ghosh said he would soon ask Railway Minister, Mamata Banerjee, to ensure inclusion of railway properties within its ambit.

Though several State governments like Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, and others have taken initiatives in implementing the policy, West Bengal government has even failed to demarcate restoration-free vending zones, restricted vending zones, no-vending zones and mobile vending areas in cities and towns, he alleged.

Mr. Ghosh said in Kolkata alone there are 2.75 lakh vendors while at the State level there are 16 lakh vendors and about four crore at the national level.

Quoting a study, Mr. Ghosh said the total turnover of the hawkers in India was approximately Rs 8,000 crore per day, with the hawkers selling 75 per cent of the vegetables in urban Indian market.