A day after the Union Cabinet approved the Street Vendors (Protection of Livelihood & Regulation of Street Vending) Bill, 2012, the National Association of Street Vendors of India organised a meeting at Jantar Mantar on Saturday and hailed the decision with the hope that Parliament would now pass the Bill in its current session.
Association national coordinator Arbind Singh said, “The struggle of street vendors has yielded result. We have reached a major milestone. Once enacted, the Act will go a long way in protecting the livelihood, dignity and human rights of millions of street vendors. We call upon all political parties to support the Bill in Parliament.”
Recalling that his organisation had for long championed the cause of street vendors, Mr. Singh said, “We have been struggling for a comprehensive Central law since 2009. In October 2010, the Supreme Court also justified our demand and the Government was directed to convert the National Policy for Urban Street Vendors into a law as the policy had not been able to ensure the fundamental right to livelihood of street vendors.”
“Post-Supreme Court verdict,” he said, “the street vendors indeed struggled a lot to convince the Union Ministry of Housing & Urban Poverty Alleviation on the critical necessity of Central law.”
But the efforts, he insisted, continued in an unrelenting fashion. “We organised vendors to come on the streets in several cities in 2011 and approached the National Advisory Council (NAC), the Prime Minister and UPA chairperson for getting a Central law. We also contacted several Members of Parliament and urged them to write to the Prime Minister. We even prepared a model draft Bill and shared it with the NAC and the MHUPA,” added Mr. Singh.
According to Association programme manager Ranjit Abhigyan, the protest call issued by it for Saturday was converted into victory marches and celebrations across the country.
As in 60 cities across the nation, at Jantar Mantar too the street vendors took out a victory march, splashed colours, shared sweets and thanked the UPA Government for finally listening to their demands.
Meanwhile, the association has also lauded the move to regulate food vendors in the country under the Food Safety & Regulation Act as registration under the process of regulation would help them get legitimacy for their business. It has, however, opposed the stringent regulating provisions such as penalty of up to Rs.25,000 on a vendor not getting registered in time.