A historic day for Street Vendors

By Mohammad Ali

A vendor selling snacks near Jantar Mantar

Balwant Singh, a vegetable seller at Jangpura market, has been waiting for this day since 2011 when he found out that a legislation to protect street vendors` livelihoods was in the offing. With a radiant smile on Friday, as the Street Vendors (Protection of Livelihood and Regulation of Street Vending) Bill-2012 was passed by the Lok Sabha, he distributed sweets in the market.

There were enough reasons for Balwant to celebrate. He expects the "daily routine" of harassment at the hands of municipal authorities and the police to decrease.

"Today history was made," he says.

He said street vendors are at the mercy of civic body officials and local police. The vendors` livelihood exists in a legislative vacuum, making them vulnerable to exploitation.

The proposed law, which has been hailed by the National Association of Street Vendors of India (NASVI), provides great relief to around 2 per cent of the country`s population involved in street vending.

The bill provides for security and protection of the livelihood of all street vendors who have a vending certificate, which will be issued by the Town Vending Committee. The bill approved by the Union Cabinet states that at least 2.5 per cent of a city`s population would be allocated vending zones.

It would be mandatory to form Town and Zonal Vending Committees in every city, with street vendors having 40 per cent representation.

NASVI national coordinator Arbind Singh termed the bill an "inclusive and effective" Central legislation and a "critical socio-political need of urbanising India". He said from eatables to fruit juices, soft toys to precious stones, garments to iron tools - street vendors in the city sell a large range of products. But useful as they are, there is no legislation yet to provide immunity to the vendor community.

Sourced from www.thehindu.com

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StreetNet NewsBox

NewsBox

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ABU-DHABI. Abu Dhabi Municipality raid scares away street hawkers. Gulf News (7 April 2015).

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MALAYSIA. 'Development will be inclusive'. The Star Online (3 April 2015).

INDIA. 'Street vendors denied right to livelihood'. The Hindu (1 April 2015) by K.N. Umesh.

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StreetNet International

StreetNet International is an alliance of street vendors. It was launched in Durban, South Africa, in November 2002.

Membership-based organizations (unions, co-operatives or associations) directly organizing street vendors, market vendors and/or hawkers among their members, are entitled to affiliate to StreetNet International.

The aim of StreetNet is to promote the exchange of information and ideas on critical issues facing street vendors, market vendors and hawkers (i.e. mobile vendors) and on practical organizing and advocacy strategies