Street vendors slam K’taka govt’s 2k aid per vendor

Published on May 28, 2021 12:29 AM IST

Bengaluru: With Karnataka government extending the lockdown by two more weeks, the street vendors in Bengaluru have been left in the lurch

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HT Image
ByArun Dev

Bengaluru: With Karnataka government extending the lockdown by two more weeks, the street vendors in Bengaluru have been left in the lurch. The lockdown will be in place till June 7. Even though the government has allowed them to operate between 6 am to 10 am, many vendors say that unlike the big shops they are unable to cope with the losses. While they had pinned their hopes on the economic package announced by the government on May 19, the meager allocation of 2,000 per vendor has come as a disappointment for many of them. Other than financial problems, many vendors have been complaining of police harassment and loss of property due to police action.

Struggling to meet ends during the lockdown and facing harassment, several street vendor unions in Bengaluru have come together to demand a change in the current rules. “In the present circumstances, a lockdown has been announced yet again. Several street vendors have succumbed to Covid-19. They have been put in a position where they have to choose between safeguarding their health and livelihood,” read a statement issued by the consortium of street vendor unions on Wednesday.

“Despite the state government declaring street vending as an essential service and that fruits, vegetables and flower vending was permitted, the police arbitrarily thrashed street vendors and verbally abused them. The same was reported all over the media and we bear testament to it,” the statement added.

A member of the union added that while the lockdown has been imposed due to the failures of the government, street vendors have been forced to bear the brunt. “Politicians and bureaucrats are not impacted as they earn a salary and maybe they have other perks as well. However, we are the ones being punished. Even though we are ready to earn our livelihoods, we have been put under lockdown in our homes,” S Babu, president of Bangalore Jilla Beedi Vyapari Sanghataneegala Okkuta.

“We have been working very hard to earn an income for the past one year. To add insult to injury, on May 19 the Karnataka government announced financial assistance of Rs. 2,000. This is absolutely inhuman and undignified and displays ignorance of the government towards the plight of the street vendors. We have a right to live and the same must be protected. We are ready to work, and the restrictions on our work must be lifted. Otherwise, we must be paid 15,000 a month as financial assistance,” he added.

Syed Zameer of Shivajinagar Street Vendors Union said the Karnataka government must stop spending on expenditures and must support street vendors by providing financial assistance of Rs. 15,000, while Vanaja, a street vendor in Gandhi Bazaar also urged the government to bring in a moratorium on all loans and rents.

Various street vendors unions in the city have also prepared a memorandum, which has been sent to the government. In the memorandum, the vendors have raised demands such as extending the timings for vending fruits and vegetables till 2 pm, instruction to police not to harass street vendors, financial assistance of 15,000 to every street vendor, government waiver on the interest of loans taken from banks and private parties and moratorium on rent-payment.

They also demanded that a Kerala model of Public Distribution System (PDS) must be adopted, and rice, dal, grams and cooking oil must be provided to poor street vendors. They have also sought that street vendors must be provided free vaccination near markets and at their homes.

A senior BBMP official said that they have proposed the government to allow the street vendors to operate till 6 pm like the milk booths and government-run vegetable shops and that a decision will be out soon. “The proposal is in consideration,” said the senior BBMP official.

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