Staff Reporter

“MCD adopts ‘corrupt process’ for awarding licences”

NEW DELHI: A “dharna” was organised at Town Hall here on Wednesday to protest against the Municipal Corporation of Delhi’s “corruption-marred process” of awarding licences to street vendors.

Madhu Kishwar, senior fellow at the Centre for the Study of Developing Societies and founder editor of the journal “Manushi”, said though the MCD had recently announced that 300,000 vending licences would be issued within the next six months, it was a matter of deep concern that there were no safeguards in place to ensure that only genuine vendors got them.

Without a reliable system of identifying genuine vendors, inviting applications would result in lakhs of bogus applicants.

The politically-connected mafia, under whose control the vending business was presently being conducted, would ensure that their associates flooded the civic body with “benami” applications. This would result in genuine applicants being left high and dry, she added.

The dharna, which witnessed a large turnout of supporters including street vendors, saw speakers such as senior lawyer Ram Jethmalani and advocate Geeta Luthra voice their concern over the “tehbazari” issue.

The gathering proposed withdrawal of the MCD’s scheme and said an empowered task force headed by the Lieutenant-Governor of Delhi should be set up to institutionalise an accountable system for legalising the status of street vendors. This will prevent the mafia and other vested interests from capturing vending spots in hawking zones. A city-wide photo census to identify the vendors who are actually functioning from the streets was also suggested.

Ms. Kishwar said Delhi vendors paid Rs. 500 to Rs. 20,000 for illegally occupying vending spots and that licensed stalls in prime commercial areas were sold from Rs. 20 lakh to Rs. 40 lakh each. The acute shortage of commercial space had resulted in creation of a mafia that controlled illegal street vending.