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Rail vendor law hope

New Delhi, Dec. 19: A change of guard at the railway ministry may have come as a relief for vendors operating at platforms as the government is likely to bring them under a planned law on regulating street vendors and protecting them from harassment.

Sources said housing and poverty alleviation minister Ajay Maken had recently taken up the matter with Pawan Bansal, who heads the railway ministry that was earlier held by the Trinamul Congress.

The current street vendors bill, under review by a standing committee headed by JD(U) leader Sharad Yadav, does not cover vendors at railway stations and on trains.

The bill clearly says the provisions of the proposed act “shall not apply” to any land premises and trains owned and controlled by the railway ministry under the Railway Act, 1989.

This line had been inserted because the railway ministry, then with Trinamul, had raised an issue of turf. The ministry had said the housing and poverty alleviation ministry could not have mandate over railway land.

With the railway ministry back with the Congress, the housing ministry is confident of bringing it round.

“The government introduced the street vendors bill in the last session of the Lok Sabha, but the street vendors still have issues of concerns and they want an effective central legislation which can ensure protection of their rights and entitlements. The government is alive and responsive to those concerns and we would ensure a livelihood-protecting effective central legislation gets enacted,” Maken said.

According to the census, there are around 10 million street vendors in India.

In 2009, when the bill was floated, the idea was states would formulate their own laws based on it.

The bill envisages that each municipality should have a town vending committee, which should be the apex body for local street vendors.

These bodies would have to formulate terms and conditions for the vendors, maintain records and a database and will be responsible for periodic surveys.