Special Correspondent

Corporation yet

to come up with rehabilitation package for displaced vendors

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Hundreds of fish and vegetable vendors, mostly women, took out a march to the City Corporation office at Palayam here on Friday to protest against the move to evict them from roadside markets. The protest was organised by the Theeradesa Mahila Vedi.

Inaugurating the march, State president of the Kerala Swathantra Matsya Thozhilali Federation T. Peter alleged that the eviction move was aimed at paving the way for the entry of retail chains like Walmart and Reliance. He said hundreds of vendors would lose their livelihood if they were displaced.

Mr. Peter said the Corporation was bound to provide alternative land and facilities for the vendors to carry on their trade. “Many vendors have been selling fish and vegetables by the roadside for decades. Customers are drawn to them by the reasonable rates,” he added.

President of Theeradesa Mahila Vedi Elizabeth Antony, secretary Freeska Kurishappan, Magline Peter, KSMTF district president Valierian Isack, secretary Anto Alias and former ward councillor Bridget Franklin addressed the protestors.

The march began from the Secretariat and proceeded to the City Corporation office. Despite the snowballing protest, the Corporation has failed to come up with a rehabilitation package for the displaced hawkers. The City Development Plan outlines a proposal to rehabilitate hawkers and legitimise street vending as an ‘affordable’ service for the urban population. Scheduled to be taken up under the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM), the project primarily seeks to relocate street vendors to special zones equipped with basic infrastructural facilities.

It is estimated that the city has 3,700 street vendors operating from commercial zones like East Fort, Chalai, Manacaud, Thampanoor, Statue, Palayam, Karamana, Kesavadasapuram, Vazhuthacaud, Medical College, Ulloor and Sasthamangalam.

Under the project, the Corporation would identify land to create hawking zones where street vendors would be provided with semi permanent structures and basic amenities like toilets, electricity, drinking water and storage. It moots aesthetic design of mobile stalls and push carts to improve appeal.