In a move that will help decongest the city and provide pedestrians with more space, the state’s urban development department (UDD) on Wednesday issued a notification finalising rules to implement the Street Vendors (Protection of Livelihood and Regulation of Street Vending) Act 2014, which will allow civic bodies, including the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC), to regulate vendors.
The civic bodies will be able to identify vending zones in every ward and segregate the hawkers into categories — mobile, stationary — in designated zones. The move will also offer relief to the hawkers, who face rampant extortion.
With majority of Mumbai’s congestion woes linked to unregulated hawking, Hindustan Times has consistently reported on the issue and got authorities to act on it. During a discussion by transport experts — held in 2013 as part of HT’s Unclog Mumbai campaign — hawkers blocking pavements were identified as one of the reasons for traffic congestion on some of the city’s busiest roads, as pedestrians are forced to walk on the road with no space on pavements. Civic officials at that point had said a solution to the problem could be implementation of the Street Vendors Act.
While the central law, the last legislation by the former UPA government, was cleared in 2014, every state was tasked with the job of drafting rules to implement the law. The state has finalised it now. So far, the BMC had carried out a survey of vendors, with 99,435 hawkers responding to it, but no action had been taken to designate vending zones.
Wednesday’s notification gives powers to the civic chief-headed town vending committee, which includes vendors’ representatives, to identify vending zones. This committee, which is mandated to meet once in three months, is set to earmark ‘restriction-free vending zones’ and ‘no-vending zones’ as per recommendations of the ward committee.
The notification states that the committee will also allocate space for festival bazaars, night bazaars, etc, decide type of commodity that can be permitted for sale by stationary- and mobile-street vendors, provide civic facilities and appliances to vendors in their zones, facilitate socio-economic schemes for vendors and carry out corrective action against defaulters, among other things.
However, important functions such as deciding vending fees and handing out of vending certificates have been kept out of the purview of the committee.
Once the draft rules are finalised in a month, the BMC can start with the appointment of the committee. The big challenge will be to hold elections among registered vendors (these will be conducted by the labour commissioner) for the seats on the committee, which also includes the Mumbai police commissioner, leader of the Opposition, two NGO representatives, and representatives of several associations. Like in the central law, the state has made way for a grievance redressal mechanism, which will allow aggrieved vendors to complaint against the civic body.
“The civic commissioner of every municipal corporation and president of municipal council can start the process by appointing the committee. The state government has been given final powers to revoke any proposals cleared in the committee if it goes against our existing laws,” said a senior official.