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Delhi: Four Years on, Those Tasked to Survey Street Vendors Continue to Work Without Allowance

Ronak Chhabra |
On Thursday, members of multiple town vending committees (TVCs), that were notified in 2018, staged a protest outside the headquarters of the Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD).

At the call of HJAC, TVC members demanded allowance on Thursday. Image clicked by Ronak Chhabra

New Delhi: Hundreds of elected members of multiple town vending committees (TVCs) in the city staged a protest outside the headquarters of the Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) here at the Civic Centre on Thursday to press for an allowance for themselves in line with the statutory minimum wage.

Demonstrating at the call of Hawkers Joint Action Committee (HJAC), the protesters also flayed the MCD, which was erstwhile divided into North, East, and South zone, for not completing the survey of street vendors and thus delaying implementation of a 2014 law, aimed at regulating the vending business, in the national capital.

Constituted under the Street Vendors (Protection of Livelihood and Regulation of Street Vending) Act, 2014, a TVC is empowered to identify vending zones, survey the street vendors in the city and issue them a vending certificate.

The committee comprises nominated state government officials, representatives from NGOs and elected local street vendors – the latter’s strength must not be less than 40% of the total committee members. In Delhi, 28 TVCs in different areas across the city were notified in 2018.

However, so far, no allowance of any kind has been paid to the TVC members in the city, even as a provision for the same is included in the 2014 Act as well as the Delhi Street Vendors (Protection of Livelihood and Regulation of Street Vending) Scheme, 2019, complained HJAC on Thursday.

The process of creating vending zones in Delhi has [also] not yet started, and without creating a vending zone, a large number of street vendors are being evicted from their place of vending, which is in violation of law,” HJAC said in a memorandum, addressed to MCD Commissioner.

On Thursday, Rakesh Kalra (53), an elected TVC member in the Civil Lines zone, told NewsClick that committee members currently have to leave their livelihood work and risk lives to conduct surveys of street vendors in their respective zones.

We have conducted surveys by paying out of our own pockets. During the pandemic, one of our TVC members even died of COVID-19. And yet, no compensation has been paid to them by the government,” said Kalra, who is also a fruit vendor in North West Delhi’s GTB Nagar.

Street vendors in the city are finding it difficult to convey their grievances to the TVC, lamented Putul Datta, a food hawker in her 40s, who is an elected TVC member of the Shahdara South zone.

Our committee does not have an office space or funds to maintain registers with information on local street vendors. This is why we are finding it difficult to continue the survey work,” she said.

According to the data provided by Delhi Street Hawkers Survey, conducted by corporations in the national capital, 77,674 vendors are identified, as of Thursday, of which 67,089 have received approval for certification.

However, several activists in the past have rued that many of the vendors in the city are yet to be surveyed, even as those surveyed and identified as vendors have complained of facing eviction by municipal authorities, despite possessing a vending certificate. According to a conservative estimate shared by activists, there are close to five lakh street vendors – both stationary and mobile – in the national capital.

Dharmendra Kumar, national president, HJAC, said on Thursday that a budgetary provision for the TVCs in the national capital must be immediately announced.

Meanwhile, HJAC’s memorandum, accessed by NewsClick, on Thursday added that the Employees State Insurance (ESI) facility of health care and insurance must be extended to all the street vendors in the city. This will alleviate the possible financial difficulties faced by a vendor due to health hazards posed by extreme climatic conditions, HJAC reasoned.

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