Street vendors offered loans, not licence

Delhi is one of the three states where not a single licence has been issued to a street vendor and where provisions of the Street Vendors Act, 2013 are yet to be implemented

Representative image
Representative image

S Khurram Raza

Street Vendors (Protection of Livelihood and Regulation of Street Vending) Act, required every street vendor was to be registered and recognised. Vendors did not have to apply for licence. Anyone selling anything was to be recognised as a street vendor. No street vendor could be removed from his chosen place until the survey was completed and they were rehabilitated.

Town Vending Committees (TVC) were deemed to be the final decision-making authority. A minimum of 40% of the TVC members were to be elected from among the street vendors.”

It was the duty of the TVCs to carry out survey as per the guidelines made by the respective states. The TVCs in various districts were to ensure that all street vendors identified by the government were accommodated in the vending zones subject to norms.

There are four states, including Delhi, where not a single licence has been given to street vendors. The other three are West Bengal, Sikkim and the Union Territory of Jammu & Kashmir.

Former Union minister for Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation (2012-13) Ajay Maken, who had piloted the Bill estimates the number of street vendors in the country to be around 1.23 crore. But only 22 lakh of them have a proper licence. But street vendors, he claims, contribute approximately Rs. 4.5 lakh crore to the country’s economy.

In October last year, the Union Government announced the Prime Minister Street Vendors Atmanirbhar Nidhi (PM SVANidhi) scheme for street vendors. The scheme provided working capital loan up to Rs. 10,000 at nominal rates of interest.

The Government claims over two million street vendors applied for the loan; 7,52,191 loan applications were sanctioned and loans disbursed to 2,18,751 vendors. But then Delhi alone is said to have more street vendors than the number of vendors who have received the loan. And none of them has a licence.

Maken describes SVANidhi as a “mere eyewash” and insists that the government should have provided this amount as financial assistance to the vendors, not a loan.

But an even more important questions is whether Rs 10,000 was sufficient to put vendors back on business. Did the undeserving or those who are not street vendors walk away with the loans? What about those who don’t have papers to prove he/ she is a vendor, verified by the Urban Local Body (ULB).

Though street vendors have organised themselves into trade unions and associations over the years and several NGOs have started working for them, life of street vendors has not changed much. They continue to be harassed by police and municipal authorities in the absence of licenses.

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