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13 June 2024 – The Hindu


Challenges Faced by Street Vendors

  • The Street Vendors (Protection of Livelihood and Regulation of Street Vending) Act was passed on May 1, 2014, making it ten years old. The legislation was welcomed as a progressive measure that sought to improve the lot of street vendors by granting them legal rights to sell their goods. Nevertheless, there have been major obstacles to the Act’s effective implementation.
  • Because street vendors are so prevalent in large cities and provide basic everyday necessities, they play a crucial role in the urban economy. They give inhabitants access to basic requirements, acting as essential nodes in the urban economic environment.

What Rights Do Street Vendors Have? Who Are They?

  • A person who sells things to the general public without having a built-in, permanent structure is known as a street vendor.
  • They can work from fixed locations on sidewalks or other public or private areas, or they can move around and use push carts or baskets to transport their goods.
  • People:
  • Street sellers have become more prevalent in large cities across the globe, especially in developing nations like Asia, Latin America, and Africa.
  • There are about 49.48 lakh street sellers in India; the largest number are in Uttar Pradesh (8.49 lakh), followed by Madhya Pradesh (7.04 lakh). On the other hand, Sikkim has no identified street vendors, whereas Delhi has approximately 72,457.
  • Article 19(1)(g) of the Indian Constitution gives its inhabitants the fundamental freedom to engage in any kind of business, profession, or trade.

What is the Street Vendors (Regulation of Street Vending and Protection of Livelihood) Act of 2014?

  • It was put into place to give street vendors (SVs) legal rights to sell goods.
  • Its goal was to protect and control street vending in urban areas, with State-level policies and initiatives being managed by Urban Local Bodies (ULBs) via the creation of bylaws, planning, and implementation.

Positions and Accountabilities:

  • It describes the obligations of several governmental levels as well as vendors.
  • It plans to provide Vending Certificates (VCs) and accommodate all “existing” vendors in defined vending zones.
  • Through the formation of Town Vending Committees (TVCs), where street vendor representatives are required to make up 40% of the members, with a sub-representation of 33% for female SVs, it develops a participatory government structure.
  • These committees are in charge of making sure that all currently operating vendors are included in vending zones. They also suggest the creation of a Grievance Redressal Committee, which would be presided over by a civil judge or judicial magistrate, and handle grievances and disagreements.
  • Survey-Taking:
  • It requires States and ULBs to identify SVs through surveys at least once every five years.

What Role Do Street Sellers Play in India?

 Generation of Livelihoods:

  • For millions of individuals, especially the impoverished living in urban areas and migrants, they are an essential source of income. It provides people with chances for independent work and survival in the face of difficult economic circumstances.
  • Indirect job possibilities are produced by street vending in supply chains, logistics, and support services, in addition to the sellers themselves.
  • The ease of accessing goods and services.
  • Urban people rely on street vendors to provide them with reasonably priced and easily accessible goods and services.
  • Their products, which range from ready-to-eat snacks to fresh fruit, meet everyday demands and improve urban food security.

Preservation of Cultural Heritage:

  • Street vendors frequently look after cultural customs and gastronomic traditions. Their products, like the vada pav from Mumbai and the roadside dosai from Chennai, perfectly capture their significance.
  • The varied cultural heritage of India’s regions and communities is reflected in artisanal crafts.

Which government initiatives are available to street vendors?

PM SVANidhi Plan: 

  • The Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs launched the PM SVANidhi Scheme with the goal of lending street vendors reasonably priced operating capital so they can start new companies or grow their current ones. It also provides rewards for prompt payments.
  • NULM, or the National Urban Livelihood Mission:
  • NULM is a centrally financed programme that gives urban poor households access to chances for skilled wage employment and productive self-employment, with the goal of reducing poverty and vulnerability.
  • It contains clauses pertaining to capacity growth, skill development, and financing availability for street vendors.
  • Street sellers are the focus of this Deendayal Antyodaya Yojana-National Urban Livelihoods Mission (DAY-NULM) initiative.
  • It offers assistance in establishing and modernising vending infrastructure, forming Self-Help Groups (SHGs) among vendors, and making credit and social security programmes more accessible.
  • Initiatives for Skill Development:
  • Street sellers can increase their earning potential and diversify their sources of income by participating in a variety of skill development programmes and vocational training initiatives that are designed to improve their capabilities.

Committees for Town Vending (TVCs):

  • Town Vending Committees are established at the municipal level under the Street Vendors Act to aid with the execution of the Act’s requirements.
  • These committees are in charge of designating vending zones, providing vending certificates, and resolving street vendors’ complaints.
  • Provisions Particular to Each State:
  • The Street Vendors Act of 2014 established state-specific regulations for street vendors in Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Karnataka, and West Bengal.

What difficulties do Indian street vendors face? 

Challenges in Administration:

  • Increased Evictions and Harassment: In spite of the Street Vendors Act, which places protection first, street vendors face more evictions and harassment, which is frequently the result of antiquated bureaucratic mindsets that treat them like undocumented immigrants.
  • Lack of Sensitization and Awareness: The Act’s requirements are not well understood by state officials, the general public, and suppliers, which leads to implementation gaps.
  • Limited Representation in TVCs: The representation of street vendors in Town Vending Committees (TVCs) is frequently devoid of power, and the presence of female merchants is merely passing.

Challenges in Governance:

  • Inadequate Urban Governance Mechanisms: Urban Local Bodies (ULBs) lack the requisite jurisdiction and capacity, and the Act is not adequately aligned with urban governance frameworks.
  • Initiatives for Urban Development: Initiatives such as the Smart Cities Mission undermine the goals of the Act by giving infrastructure development precedence over the inclusion of street vendors.
  • Exclusionary Urban Development: Street sellers are marginalised by conventional notions of “world-class cities,” which prevents them from being recognised as genuine participants in urban life.

Social Difficulties:

  • Impact of Technology Advancements and Climate Change: E-commerce competition, diminishing earnings, and climate change provide new problems for street sellers that call for creative solutions.
  • Stigma on Urban Image: Rather than acknowledging street sellers’ significance as essential members of urban communities, society’s perception of the high-tech urban realm reinforces their status as obstacles to development.

Extortion Scheme:

  • “Hatha” and “rangdari tax” cases are frequent. Vendors in many places need to give up a sizable sum of money in order to operate.

What More Could Be Done to Help Street Vendors in Better Shape?

 Boost Execution:

  • This entails identifying procedures, raising awareness of available benefits (including educational seminars, partnerships with non-governmental organisations, peer-to-peer community learning, and cooperation with local authorities), and guaranteeing accessibility of support services.

Increase Advantages:

  • More benefits, such as accident compensation, natural death benefits, help for children’s further education, and crisis pensions, ought to be extended to street vendors.

 Stop Harassment:

  • Protecting street vendors’ right to a living requires making sure they are not the target of unjust fines, arbitrary evictions, or the confiscation of products.

Improved Representation:

  • To guarantee that their opinions are heard on issues affecting their means of subsistence, street vendors should be meaningfully represented in decision-making bodies like Town Vending Committees (TVCs).
  • Increasing the number of street vendors—especially women vendors—may result in more inclusive laws and improved conditions for these disadvantaged people.
  • Enabling street vendors to have easier access to official financial services like loans, savings, and insurance can help them invest in their companies and manage their money more wisely.
  • The promotion of financial inclusion among street sellers can be greatly aided by digital banking technologies, self-help organisations, and microfinance institutions.

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