While the civic body has had access to a slew of suggestions and recommendations from activists and experts, the administration believes that the Street Vendors Act and the Supreme Court directives contain the only solutions to the problem of hawkers, say experts. They, however, say involvement is crucial to resolve the impasse.
Experts say one of the major reasons for the BMC’s repeated failure to regulate hawkers in the city is the utter lack of a participatory mechanism that involves all the stakeholders –pedestrians, motorists, shopkeepers and the hawkers themselves. They say that the suggestions and alternatives that such a mechanism will yield could yield a solution that will help the BMC balance the rights of pedestrians with the livelihoods of hawkers.
Experts have said that hawkers should be categorised on the basis of the time of vending, and the commodities sold by them, to prevent overcrowding. Reserving a percentage of pavements for hawkers is another suggestion. In Bhubaneswar, for instance, 3% of pavements are marked for hawkers. Others have suggested that surveys be conducted by digitally marking the existing hawker pitches using GPS, and that each hawker’s photograph be taken to calculate their total number, instead of randomly distributing survey forms, as the BMC did.
Hawkers, meanwhile, have suggested that their natural markets be maintained, and existing hawkers be relocated only in case of overcrowding. Residents have demanded that existing and proposed hawking zones and natural markets be marked in the Development Plan 2034.
“Thanks to the faulty survey, there is a discontent against the administration and fear among hawkers that they will be forced to discontinue vending. The local administration needs to consult the parties that are affected the most. The town vending committee was constituted for this very purpose, but was never consulted,” said Mecanzy Dabre, Maharashtra secretary, National Hawkers Federation.