Representatives of street vendors who faced eviction this year have appealed for a stay on such action until a survey of survey of hawkers is done by the Delhi government, bids for which will open on Wednesday.
On October 31, the Delhi government invited bids for carrying out a demand survey of vendors in the city.
Under the Street Vendors Act, 2014, a photo census of vendors along with GIS mapping and other aspects are to be surveyed before issuing identification cards. In September, the Delhi government had announced that it would be the first State to implement the Act.
Arbind Singh, coordinator of the National Street Vendors’ Association of India (NSVAI), argued that letting private parties conduct the survey could lead to corruption, political manipulation, and the process being stalled.
Mr. Singh said that the survey should be carried out by an independent authority or by the existing 28 Town Vending Committees (TVCs) and vendors’ organisations, so that the survey is “authentic and credible”.
The TVCs, comprising elected vendors, area representatives, and others, is chaired by the municipal deputy commissioner of the respective zone.
Abdul Ajeez, representative of the Jama Masjid Patri Association and a member of the area TVC, complained that vendors in the area had been evicted despite having received a stay from the High Court in 2015.
“This year, without any directions, authorities lifted our goods,” claimed Ajeez.
“They say it is the Supreme Court’s directions, but no where in that order does it talk about street vendors. What about properties of rich people that are built without authorisation? We are treated as pest because we are easy to deal with. They will not do anything to the rich people,” he said.
Mr. Singh further argued that vendors should not be removed till the survey is completed. “Who will you survey if the vendors are removed?” he asked. Adding to the argument, Mr. Ajeez said that the survey was of the people and their biometrics have to be carried out, “not of the land after all”.
‘We bear the brunt’
Sunil Mishra of the Karol Bagh Raidi Patri Association and a vendor from the area complained that they had been chucked out in the name of pedestrianisation and beautification of the area. “But most of the encroachments in the area were by shopkeepers who extended their stores onto the footpaths, Mr. Mishra said.
“We bear the brunt of this. Any direction for removal of encroachments from any court, falls directly upon vendors,” he said, adding that UTTIPEC guidelines for creating alternative “hawkers zone” were not being followed in the area.
Kanchan Devi from Sarojini Market accused the New Delhi Municipal Council of behaving “irresponsibly”, arguing that goods seized by authorities were released at high costs and often got lost.
Vendors also alleged that they were being pushed around from one authority to another when they raised their concerns. “When we go to the Chief Minister, we are told to take our concerns to the TVC, but the TVC meetings are not taking place,” said a vendors’ representative from Shastri Nagar.
Vendors also attacked the Delhi government for not implementing provisions of the Street Vendors Act, 2014. “Only with the elections around the corner, did the government bring in the notification,” said Mr. Singh.
They also attacked the BJP, which is in power in all three municipal corporations of Delhi. The deputy commissioners of the civic bodies are chairpersons of the TVCs.
The NVASI has said that vendors would go on an indefinite strike at the Civic Centre on Wednesday. Their demands include a stop to evictions until the survey is completed, restoring of recently evicted vendors and an adherence to the TVCs for vendor-related issues.