Protection of Livelihood and Regulation of Street Vending Act in force, but vendors live in fear

NEW DELHI - India: A policeman enjoying golgappas on a TV commercial and paying the vendor caught the attention of many. Two reasons the policeman didn't evict the street vendor, and he even paid him. The ad, which was about passing of the Protection of Livelihood and Regulation of Street Vending Act by the Congress party, had given them courage to imagine a life minus harassment and exploitation.

The Bill was drafted and passed this year. It came into effect on May 1. But, till date, vendors say it hasn't been properly implemented. "We continue to be harassed and exploited by civic agencies. When we tell them that there is a law in place, they act clueless. Even one of the mayors of Delhi didn't know about the existence of such a law," said Arbind Singh, national coordinator, National Association of Street Vendors of India (NASVI).

It was the job of the corporations to identify the vending sites but that hasn't been done. Police ask vendors for money and those who don't know much about vending certificates are vulnerable to extortion.

Thirty vendors from Nizamuddin area were evicted recently. When a NASVI team visited the place, policemen and other vendors there pleaded ignorance. "Implementation of the law is a big problem. Harassment of the vendors can end only when civic agencies and police follow guidelines," Singh said.

Recently, the High Court of Delhi quashed the yearly practice of municipal bodies banning street food sale.

"The court observed that, with Food Safety Act 2006 and Street Vending Act both in place, the Municipal Bodies Act is arbitrary and not needed," said Sampriti Phukan Malik, a lawyer associated with NASVI.

Ram, a street vendor leader from Prabhu Market, said that, despite intense struggle, court observations and hectic lobbying in Delhi, municipal bodies continue to stonewall the Street Vendors Act on one pretext or the other." The latest reason cited by the corporations was delay in framing of rules by the state government. However, to help the state government, NASVI had prepared draft rules and shared it with municipal bodies.

Around 13,000 food vendors have already enrolled for Street Food Program. Of them, 3,000 in Delhi have been issued certificates.

However, Sangeeta Singh, who heads the programme, said, "Registered vendors must be provided training in food safety and hygiene along with basic infrastructure like potable water and means of waste disposal." Delegations from Asian countries like Nepal, Bhutan and Cambodia have been invited to learn about the Indian law in order to enact the same in their respective countries.

Sourced from the Times of India -

NB - The original heading has been adapted to suit our global audience

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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