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The panel seeks to firm up regulations to ensure that the street vendors can sell their wares without being harassed (HT)
The panel seeks to firm up regulations to ensure that the street vendors can sell their wares without being harassed (HT)

Livelihood of street vendors comes under House panel lens

The panel’s focus will be on ways to financially assist street vendors and providing vending spaces near their homes

Some respite may be in sight for street vendors, who lead a hand-to-mouth existence and were among the worst hit during the covid-induced nationwide lockdown, with the parliamentary committee on urban development looking to formalize and secure their livelihood requirements.

The panel seeks to firm up regulations to ensure that street vendors can sell their wares without being harassed by the police or local administrations, even in semi-urban and rural areas.

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The standing committee is scrutinizing the finer details of the Street Vendors (Protection of Livelihood and Regulation of Street Vending) Act, 2014, to ensure a smooth rollout.

The committee has sought the presence of representatives from the ministry of housing and urban affairs, as well as those from the governments of Delhi, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and Punjab at the meeting on Wednesday to discuss a host of issues to make life simpler for street vendors.

Panel members Mint spoke to acknowledged the hardships faced by the vendor community even during the unlock phases, as they not only found it difficult to resume their businesses, but were also at the risk of being delicensed by local administrations.

Vendors operating in Delhi and the three neighbouring states were among the worst hit during the lockdown and, subsequently, decided to return home following the loss in livelihood. The committee has also asked the states to give an update on the implemention of the landmark legislation on street vendors.

“This is one of the most significant agendas that the committee has chosen for this year. We are expecting its ambit to increase and at least three to four rounds of meeting on this issue could be in the pipeline. The idea is to check what the ground implementation of the law has been, how effective it has been and what are some of the key roadblocks which could be removed," a person aware of developments said requesting anonymity.

The Act seeks to protect the rights of urban street vendors and regulate their activities by demarcating vending zones, and impose certain restrictions on street vending. A section of the panel members feels that steps must be taken to include all stakeholders in preparing a local street vending plan, which is currently out of its purview.

“Town vending committees (TVCs) have not been very effective on the ground and, in most cases, have failed to do the basic job of maintaining a formal survey of vendors and giving vending certificates. Many cities have not even formed the committees. We feel there needs to be better protection from harassment by the police and local authorities even when they operate in designated vending zones," the person cited above said.

Street vendors are expected to be one of the key beneficiaries under the Atmanirbhar package that was announced by Union finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman in May.

In June, the housing and urban affairs ministry had also launched the PM Svanidhi, or Pradhan Mantri Street Vendor’s AtmaNirbhar Nidhi scheme, a special micro-credit facility to provide affordable loans of up to 10,000 to over 5 million street vendors, who ran businesses on or before 24 March. The scheme is valid up to March 2022.

According to a second person, the House panel’s focus will be on ways to financially assist street vendors and providing vending spaces which are closer to their residence. “There is a need to discuss how to provide better financial assistance to street vendors, including provisions of low-interest loans for their work," he added.

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