It started out as a project on the street vendors of Ghaziabad, but while at it, a team of five students of Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Delhi were drawn instead to their plight and a host of issues that threaten their livelihood.
They compiled a survey report where they highlighted the issues which they now want addressed and resolved by the authorities.
The five students carried out a survey and interviewed vendors in Vijay Nagar and Nandgram areas between December 21 and December 30 last year. The report clearly brings out the exploitation that the vendors face and also the apathy by the government agencies.
“A majority of vendors were not willing to speak up fearing harassment. We found out that the vendors have given a part of their earnings to certain people who come to collect money from them either on daily, weekly or monthly basis. The vendors had no clue as to who these people were. Nearly 95% of the vendors had no clue about the town vending committee (TVC) as well and its function,” said Aakash Bhat, an IIT student from Noida and part of the group which conducted the survey.
Under the Street Vendors (Protection of Livelihood and Regulation of Street Vending) Act, 2014, the government had to constitute a TVC featuring officials of the local corporation and other members nominated form traffic police, health department, RWAs, police and the association of street vendors among others.
“We came to know from these vendors that there was hardly any meeting of the TVC. Several vendors who fought to have their issues addressed, couldn’t keep up the fight as they were not organised and didn’t have enough ways and means at their disposal to highlight their cause,” Ishan Tyagi, an IIT student from Ghaziabad who was part of the team that conducted the survey.
“In some cases, the vendors said they even have to pay to shop owners if they put up their stalls or kiosks outside areas designated for them. They were forced to pay up even if the land where they put up their stalls didn’t belong to shop owners,” Tyagi said.
The project on vendors was undertaken by the IIT students as part of their curriculum covering professional ethics and social responsibility. Moved by the plight of street vendors, they want their project report to be shared with the respective agencies so that the issues faced get highlighted and resolved.
Additional municipal commissioner DK Sinha could not be contacted despite repeated attempts. The students had earlier contacted ‘Rashtriya Sainik Sanstha,’ an organisation of civilians and ex-servicemen, which advised them to take up the project.
“We will be forwarding the findings of the report to the authorities concerned and aim to bring the issues of vendors to the fore. The vendors have been a neglected lot in the city. The TVC meetings should be held frequently and must include vendors as members,” said Colonel TP Tyagi (retired), national president of the association.