Ahead of the 2014 elections, the UPA government on Wednesday offered a major sop to the about 10 million street vendors across India – a part of its targeted aam admi vote bank.
After hanging in fire for over a year, the Union cabinet cleared the Street Vendors (Protection of Livelihood and Regulation of Street Vending) Bill, which once enacted will go a long way in protecting the rights of vendors by giving them legal protection.
Presently, there is no law to regulate and safeguard the interest of urban street vendors in India
The bill mandates municipalities to set up restriction free vending zones/ night bazaars where hawkers can sell their wares without being harassed by the authorities. Town vendor’s committee which will have representatives from municipalities as well as vendor associations will demarcate space where vendors can operate.
The Housing & Urban Poverty Alleviation ministry which is piloting the bill intends to introduce it in the ongoing budget session of the Parliament. However, it looks unlikely with the opposition continuing to disrupt the session.
The bill will allow anyone over 14 years to apply and register as street vendor on payment of one time fees. Once registered, the vendors would be given identity cards entitling them to sell their wares in specified vending zones.
It will do away with the existing license system that has become a tool of harassing the street vendors. In a city, 2.5 % of the total population would be eligible to register as street vendors. Besides, it will also help authorities regulate hawking activities in public spaces such as pavements, parks, and thoroughfares.
The bill was earlier introduced in Lok Sabha last September and was subsequently referred to the Standing Committee on Urban Development. The committee which made several recommendations such as allowing vendors outside railway stations to be included under the bill’s ambit were incorporated by the urban poverty alleviation ministry in the draft bill that was cleared by the cabinet Wednesday.
Originally, the ministry had drafted a model bill. But it was changed to a central law following the recommendation of the Sonia Gandhi-led National Advisory Council in 2011.
In its recommendation for a central law, the NAC had argued that a central law will prevail over all state municipal laws to the extent that they are inconsistent with the law for street vendors. Hence the states will not be required to amend municipal and police laws.
The Supreme Court had also directed the government to convert its National Policy for Urban Street Vendors into a law.
Highlights of the proposed bill
* Will abolish existing license system for street vendors.
* Anyone over 18 can apply to register as a street vendor.
* After registration vendors will get identity cards.
* Municipalities will have to set up specific vending zones/ night bazaars.
* Town vendor’s committee will demarcate space where vendors can operate.