A year after Sonia Gandhi-led National Advisory Council (NAC) recommended the enactment of a central law to protect the rights of more than 10 million street vendors across the country; the government is ready with a legal framework to ensure their means of livelihood.The law ministry has cleared the draft of the Street Vendors (Protection of Livelihood and Regulation of Street Vending) Bill, which was proposed by the Ministry of Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation.
“The draft bill is likely to come up for cabinet approval soon,” a HUPA ministry official said.
The government swung into action following the NAC’s rejection of the model bill proposed by the urban poverty alleviation ministry. “The proposed bill confined the Centre’s responsibility to merely recommend measures to states,” the NAC stated.
In its recommendation for a central law, the NAC argued: “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.
The bill, once cleared, will go a long way in protecting hawkers from harassment at the hand of authorities for selling their wares on streets. “It will do away with the existing license system that has become a tool of harassing vendors,” said an official.
Under the proposed bill, anyone over 18 years can apply and register as street vendor on payment of one-time fee. Once registered, they will be given identity cards entitling them to sell their wares in specified vending zones. Besides, it mandates municipalities to set up restriction free vending zones/ night bazaars where hawkers can sell their wares.
It will also help the authorities to regulate hawking activities in public spaces such as pavements, parks, and thoroughfares.