Huge Relief for Street Vendors in India
The Street Vendors’ (Protection of Livelihood and Regulation of Street Vending) Bill, 2012, which was passed by Lok Sabha on September 6, 2013, has been hailed by the National Association of Street Vendors of India (NASVI). The association has been spearheading the vendors’ rights movement for a long time. NASVI is a federation of 715 street vendor organizations, trade unions and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and is based in Delhi.
The bill was stalled by the BJP and Samajwadi Party in Rajya Sabha, which came as a major surprise for many. In Lok Sabha, Leader of the Opposition, Sushma Swaraj strongly pitched for the Bill and also congratulated Union Minister for Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation Girija Vyas for bringing in a socially progressive legislation. It is expected that the bill will be passed in Rajya Sabha in the Winter Session of the Parliament.
The new law is seen as a boon for the street vendors, who always have been at the receiving end in the absence of a proper legislation to protect their right to vend and earn livelihood. Starting from ‘Gol Gappa’ vendors to fast food stalls and other small-time shop keepers, everyone face the harassment by the municipal bodies and local police.
With a legislation in place, the street vendors will have a sigh of relief, as they will be issued licences and ID-cards to conduct their business in a hassle-free manner. The proposed law makes it mandatory for a town or city to allocate vending licences to at least 2.5 per cent of the total population. There will be town and zonal vending committee in each city with 40 per cent representation of street vendors. Anyone over 14 years can register as a street vendor after paying a one-time fee.
The bill will benefit around 10 million street vendors across India. Mumbai accounts for 250,000 street vendors, while Delhi has 200,000 such people. Kolkata has more than 150,000 street vendors followed by Ahmedabad (100,000).