Five years after the Supreme Court directed the state government to draw up a policy for street hawkers, bureaucratic hurdles and political interference have ensured there is still no policy, claim civic officials and citizens.
The civic body’s draft hawking policy that was submitted to the state government in 2010 continues to gather dust.
“An approval from the state government is pending only after which the policy can be implemented in Mumbai,” said Sharad Bande, superintendent of licences, BMC.
In 2010 when the state government sent its draft policy to the Centre, objections were raised against making hawking in a non-hawking zone a cognisable offence, and charging unlicensed hawkers an "exorbitant" fine of Rs. 5,000, including imprisonment.
The state government’s delay is intentional, said civic officials “The state has communicated that certain provisions in the Mumbai Municipal Corporation Act (MMC) needed to be changed for the hawking policy to be implemented. But for amendment, too, the state urban development department needs to issue a notification,” said a civic official.
Citizen activists demand the policy be implemented immediately. “We are unable to take sustainable action against unlicensed hawkers in the area,” said Atul Vora, Citispace activist and Kandivli resident.
Activists say that people in the informal sector such as hawkers need to be protected, but rules need to be in place. “We lack the management and implementation skills to deal with hawkers,” said Raju Bhise, general secretary, Youth for Unity and Voluntary Action (YUVA), a non-profit that had undertaken a census of hawkers on municipal lands.
“There is a need to protect the livelihood of hawkers. In several cases, hawkers have not received licenses even after submitting applications years ago.