Some of legislations on the cards is the issuing of vending certificates to the nearly one crore street vendors in the country.
From eatables to fruit juices, soft toys to precious stones, garments to iron tools - you name the product and street vendors in the city are selling it. But useful as they are, there is no legislation yet to provide immunity to the vendor community.
However, a Bill is waiting in the wings to provide resistance and existence to street vendors. Approved by the Union Cabinet, the Street Vendors (Protection and Livelihood and Regulation of Street Vending) Bill, 2013 awaits a Parliamentary nod.
A brainchild of the National Association of Street Vendors of India (NASVI), the Bill aims at enhancing the rights of street vendors. Among the important legislations on the cards is the issuing of vending certificates to the nearly one crore street vendors in the country. This would help to give them an identity as well as protect them from harassment by law enforcement agencies.
The Bill also endeavours to put in place a strong grievance redressal mechanism for the vendor community. It proposes the setting up of Town Vending Committees (TVCs) which will be responsible for deciding vending zones and the number of vendors that each zone should have. The TVCs will have to conduct at least one survey every five years to keep a close check on the number of vendors. To prevent exploitation, transfer of vending certificates will be prohibited, hence ensuring that only vendors themselves can have access to them.
With an estimate of around two lakh street vendors in Delhi, different opinions were expressed by vendors when asked about the Bill. Shivam Kumar, who operates in INA market and has some idea about the Bill said, “I read about the Bill in the newspapers, it would really help street vendors like us, if passed. More importantly it would save us from the police and local authorities.” The Bill ensures that the police cannot exercise Sections 283 and 431of IPC without specific reason on vendors having certificates.
Sundar Lal, an employee in a garments shop at Sarojini Nagar market, while appreciating the provision of non-transferable certificates, said, “As of now we work under a person who doesn’t do anything but takes 50 per cent of the net profit. He has left the shop to us to run and has three such shops.”
However, a section of the vendor community was sceptical about the ultimate outcome of the Bill. Arun Kumar, a chaat vendor in Chandni Chowk, has neither a license nor any idea about the new Bill. He doesn’t expect much to change either. “Bhai saab, bahuth saare kanoon bane huye hai, par inka koi fayda nahi hai.”According to the chaat-selling vendors, they pay Rs. 200 to the police every day, Rs. 500 to the Municipal Corporation every month and Rs. 10 to the sweepers regularly. Other vendors, too, expressed their fear of what the Bill might bring.
“We have tried to make a Bill which will benefit our vendors to a large extent,” said Arbind Singh, national coordinator of NASVI. According to him, 40 per cent members in TVCs would be vendors themselves and one-third would be women vendors. Emphasising the need for organising, he said, “Organising without law or law without organising both are failures, organising plus law can only bring about change”
The Bill, Mr. Singh explained, is designed to protect the livelihood rights and social security of street vendors and regulate urban street vending in the country. “In a society like ours, anybody can give you a law but you have to stand for your own rights; nobody can gift you your rights.”