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No end in sight to hawking woes

The issue of regulating the city’s hawkers is in the danger of being stuck in limbo.
Hindustan Times | By Kunal Purohit and Vaishnavi Vasudevan, Mumbai
UPDATED ON FEB 28, 2013 01:17 AM IST

The issue of regulating the city’s hawkers is in the danger of being stuck in limbo.

While the civic body continues to be wary of setting a deadline for framing a hawking policy, the Union minister for urban poverty alleviation Ajay Maken on Tuesday said eviction of street vendors will have to stop if the proposed Street Vendors (Protection of Livelihood and Regulation of Street Vending) bill, 2013, is approved in the ongoing session of Parliament.

Both citizen groups and hawkers now fear that the civic body’s lackadaisical approach might mean the issue continues to head nowhere, or become even more critical.

Here is why. The BMC has been dilly-dallying on the issue for 28 years, despite the Supreme Court’s 1985 order spelling out guidelines on regulating hawkers. Since then, the SC has repeatedly insisted on laying down a policy, orders which the civic body has consistently ignored.

Maken has said the civic body should consider the provisions in the central Act, and initiate the process of framing its own policy accordingly. “Until hawking spaces have been identified and earmarked, vendors can’t be evicted. This will ensure that local bodies speed up the planning process and make provisions for hawkers,” he said.

Though the BMC has constituted a two-member committee to earmark locations to rehabilitate hawkers, no deadline has been set for the work. “No time-frame has been set yet. We will hold a meeting next week to assess the time needed,” said Mohan Adtani, additional municipal commissioner.

Hawker associations, meanwhile, have demanded that eviction drives stop immediately. “Action should not be taken against hawkers until a policy is framed. The hawkers have the right to sell their wares. They should not be disturbed until a rehabilitation scheme is ready,” said Dayashankar Singh, president, Azad Hawkers’ Union.

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