Your Space: Integrate hawkers harmoniously on Pune roads

Even as Pune Municipal Corporation has failed to effectively rehabilitate hawkers, activists and residents say that unauthorised vendors have put up shops across the city. With the civic body standing committee giving the green signal to the hawkers’ policy, authorities should ensure that it is implemented in letter and spirit.

pune Updated: Dec 17, 2017 15:13 IST
Hindustan Times, Pune
Your space,Integrate hawkers harmoniously on Pune roads,supreme court
As per the Supreme Court order issued in September 2013, only licenced hawkers were to be allowed to do business.(RAHUL RAUT/HT PHOTO)

This is with reference to your detailed report, “Will hawkers’ policy make a mark?” (December 13, 2017).

In June 2017, PMC Standing Committee unanimously sanctioned the Hawkers’ Policy with a steep hike in charges for removal of encroachments and hawkers from footpaths. It is only six months later, that the PMC general body approved that 153 chowks and 45 arterial roads be made hawker-free.

There is no debate that both hawkers and citizens cannot do without each other in the Indian environment. After all, we are so used to going to the local neighbourhood hawker to get our daily stock of fruits and vegetables. In my opinion no citizen wants to put a stop to the self-employed hawkers’ daily source of living.

Corporators after they are elected had put forth some excuse or another not to approve this policy / scheme in order to protect their vote bank. PMC is equally to blame as they are letting the administrative side go vertically downhill.

As per the Supreme Court order issued in September 2013, only licenced hawkers were to be allowed to do business. Not any hawker who wanted to seize a good opportunity to do business with paying the ground rent. Thereafter, Street Vendors Act 2014 could not be followed in totality because Rules 2015 and the Scheme thereof were delayed and not ratified by the state government.

Despite PMC being the first administrative body to set up the TVC (Town Vending Committee), decisions moved at a snail’s pace since it comprised majorly of elected representatives and union leaders which resulted in conflict of interest with the citizen representatives who were overruled. However, thereafter TVC discussed and approved this in mid 2016

On October 23, 2015, Bombay high court passed an order in the matter of PIL no. 224 / 2011 stating roadside cooks are not street vendors. This HC order has been given several times to PMC and Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for joint action to be taken since licences for food vendors is given by FDA, not PMC. However, they both have such wide communication barriers, the violator gets away scot free. What they forget is that they are repeatedly committing contempt of honourable Bombay high court orders.

Problems existing are aplenty such as fake identities, selling of licences by original licencee, change of hawking category that licence was originally issued for.

Sporadic anti-encroachment drives undertaken by PMC have zero effect. The strong and effective ‘khabri’ system ensures that each hawker in the path of the PMC action is informed in advance. All hawkers disappear momentarily and surface a few hours later, successfully doing business as usual on footpaths, roadsides, kerb sides crowding all available public space.

The solution is plain for the administration to see and act:

Hawkers who are not licenced must be removed (not re-located) without giving in to sympathy / pressure tactics. Those who return must be charged hefty fines at the approved rates. Material of repeated offenders must be confiscated without favour.

As PMC stopped issuing licences in 1997, licenced hawkers must be restricted to numbers as on that date.

Hawkers who are licenced under A,B,C,D category must be charged rent for allotment of space by re-locating to designated hawker zones

Thus far, by not charging ground rent, PMC has been losing at least Rs 40-50 lakhs per month in terms of revenue through fees not charged / collected from those who are using public space free of charge.

Re-locate all hawkers, vendors from 45 non-hawking main roads and 147 main chowks without favour to 288 hawker zones

If current data shows total 27,526 hawkers whose biometrics has been done but only 14,584 who are licenced, is PMC going to keep a check on removing those 12,942 hawkers completely? In order to circumvent this problem, PMC must centralize all data and action at the anti-encroachment head office, rather let it remain de-centralised at ward levels as it currently is. Because at this level, more unhealthy ‘influence’ can be wielded by local hoodlums and ‘dadas’

PMC must engage FDA in giving a list of food vendors who they have given licences to, so the unlicenced ones can be evicted without granting ‘favour’

Because of this continuous negligence on part of PMC & Police, pedestrians suffer most as space for walking free and safe is taken up by violators who are unfortunately supported by the system. Hence, pedestrians are forced to get off the footpath by walking / competing on roads with motorized high speed vehicles, resulting in fatalities at times.

Time and again in order to appease angry citizens, PMC has ‘proposed / announced’ plans to charge fines and re-locate the licenced vendors in A,B,C,D category. So it is now hoped that this Policy and Scheme bears fruition in the best general common public interest. And the PMC and Police finds courage in the right direction to become a strong deterrent to blatant violations and violators.

Qaneez Sukhrani

There is no debate that both hawkers and citizens cannot do without each other in the Indian environment. (RAVINDRA JOSHI/HT PHOTO)

PMC must focus on implementing rules

This is in response to the reports in HT around the new hawkers’ policy being introduced in the city (December 12). Anti-encroachment department head Madhav Jagtap has said that the PMC has established 288 hawker zones in the city to rehabilitate hawkers. The Town Vending Committee had asked for our feedback (Deccan Gymkhana Parisar Samiti) while finalising the scheme and they have taken into account our points. All we need now is ensuring enforcement of the scheme from the Pune Municipal Corporation.

PMC should start putting their rules into place. Traffic rules are not enforced, hawkers rules are not enforced, solid waste management rules are not enforced. It is a question of putting down the rules and enforcing them. Rehabilitation of hawkers is important otherwise there will be no trust in PMC amongst them.

Sumita Kale

First Published: Dec 17, 2017 15:12 IST