New Delhi: Claiming to be the first city to implement the Street Vendors Act, 2014, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on Tuesday announced that the city government will legalise the street vendors and hawkers and will provide them protection in the national capital.
“Delhi will become the first state to implement the Act. Under it, 28 town vending committees have been set up and a notification has been issued. The election for the committees too has been done,” Kejriwal said.
The committees, each having 30 members, have 12 vendors or hawkers as their team, while rest of the members are officials, town planners, police and traffic police, and RWAs and market association, and officials from the health department he said.
Kejriwal said the MCDs and the civic bodies have been asked to conduct a survey of vendors through their respective town vending committees.
After the survey is completed, street vendors will be given certificates and thereafter, licences will be issued.
“The licences will have the name of the owner, address and the place of vending, and this will ensure that they are not harassed by anyone,” Kejriwal said.
He said earlier street vendors were harassed and forcibly removed by police and civic bodies. “Now licences will be provided to the vendors based and it will end their extortion and harassment”.
He added that the Street Vending Act will not only benefit hawkers but will also help in decongesting the roads in the city.
The Street Vendors (Protection of Livelihood and Regulation of Street Vending) Act, 2014 was passed in February, 2014 to regulate street vendors in public areas and protect their rights. It was introduced in the Lok Sabha in 2012 by then Union Minister of Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation, Kumari Selja.
Kejriwal said as part of the procedure, the MCDs will have a survey to identify the vendors and hawkers in the area and “those who were removed from any part of the city due to any rule will also be given space.”
The Chief Minister said the town vending committees will take the decision on the final number of vendors at any location.
“The committee will have all the power. It will identify vending and non-vending zones. The members will decide where the hawkers will be allowed. The government will not have any role,” he said.
Kejriwal said the vendors play an important role in society in any city. “And it will not be wrong to say they are the lifeline of Delhi.”
He said developed nations have a legal way of organising these vendors.
“In Delhi, they play an important role in the lifeline and economy. We buy vegetables, milk, fruits and other daily use things. But we don’t have any policy to organise them. This results in so many issues.”
Speaking about the issues faced by the vendors, he said the police, MCD and other local bodies harass them and extort money from them. “Different bodies have the anti-encroachment drive and the vendors have to bear the loss as their products were taken into the custody.”
“After the law is implemented, they will not be harassed. We are also exploring if we can provide them with any structure as per international standards with garbage bins and solar panels for electricity. This will also uniform the markets and make them beautiful as well. They will also not hamper the traffic if their locations are fixed. “
He said although there is no estimate of the number but close to five lakh vendors are in the city.
“We are expecting the survey to start in next 10-15 days and each committee will have to deal with about three assembly constituencies. We hope that in about one-two months, the survey will be completed. The weekly markets will also be counted in this,” he said.
Kejriwal said the first choice will be that the vendors should be given the same spot where they are working, “but the final decision will be of the committee”.
On being asked if this was being done just months before the Assembly polls to attract the hawkers and vendors, who were a key vote bank of the Aam Aaami Party, he said: “We started the work on this soon after coming to power (in 2015), but someone filed a case and the court has disapproved it. Now, in a way, we also have the court’s approval.”
The tenure of the Kejriwal government will end in February 2020.
Earlier this month, the Supreme Court had directed the civic bodies here to ensure pavements are cleared from all encroachments and Kejriwal said his government is working on solutions to save the livelihood of street vendors.