Dissent/Delhi Street Vendors Protest Erratic Evictions by Civic Bodies

Weekly Market Vendor, New Delhi.Image- The New Leam Staff

On Monday, nearly 2000 vendors unhappy with the way municipalities, police and other bodies’, were treating them, held a demonstration at the Civic Centre in Delhi to raise there voice against the “atrocities” of the municipalities under the leadership of National Association of Street Vendors of India (NASVI).

The vendors have been waiting from long to secure a meeting with the Municipal Authorities to discuss their issues with regard to the implementation of the Street Vendors Act, 2014.  But the vendors argue that the way authorities handle their affairs and the implementation of the provisions of the Act is very disappointing.According to vendors, the Town Vending Committees are barely functional and fail to carry out the duties entrusted upon it- be it the conducting of the survey –issuing certificates of vending or demarcating vending and non-vending zones.

This is just one half of the duties that the TVC is responsible for. The vendors feel that the long haul needs to come to an end now.The vendors claim that in the garb of decongesting busy markets, civic bodies are removing them randomly, which is against the Street Vendors (Protection of Livelihood and Regulation of Street Vending) Act, 2014.“Neither the vending committees nor the vendors are involved in the decision making process. Despite seeking time from municipal commissioners on this issue several times in the past, nothing happened. Rather, we were blamed for politicising the issue just because we are fighting for our rights,” said Arbind Singh, coordinator, National Association of Street Vendors of India (NASVI).He said that despite the notification of town vending committees by the Delhi government last month, municipalities are barely conducting meetings or taking any concrete decisions.

“If they have 50% elected members, the committee can hold meetings regularly and even take concrete decisions. But in case of the four municipalities, only introductory meetings are happening at vending committees still date. They are not even keen to resolve the matter recommended by the high court,” said Singh.

Vendors raised objections over their inconvenient removal from permanent locations for the sake of implementing parking management and pedestrianisation plans.

Arbind Singh had also alleged that the Street Vending Act, 2014, which provides legal protection to street vendors and hawkers is still on papers rather than to be implemented on ground.”It is still on papers, completely on papers.

As per the act, the eviction is not allowed till the time Town Vending Committee (TVC) is not formed to conduct survey and accordingly gives out the licences to the vendors but these things are not being followed.”Municipalities, police and other bodies often target these vendors in several areas and evict them thinking of them being incompetent. They often ask for money (Hafta) or take away the items for free showing their strength to them with no legal sanction. Despite having such a great act, if these things are taking place, then it’s of no use,” he also added. Last week, NASVI had also written a letter to the Municipal Corporations to look into the regularisation of street vendors in Delhi. However the scenario continues to be the same.Vendors call their removals at the last moment as unjustified and illegal. And they demand commissioners to openly discussions with the public.

However, Arbind Singh argues the current scenario is quite contrary as the efforts of the vendors and even NASVI have failed to move the authorities to act.The vendors, however, argue that they are not going to back down on their demands. They have stated that they are going to hold a demonstration again on November 13th in the event of no prompt action being taken by the concerned authorities.



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