Bill shield for street vendors

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By OUR SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT
  • Published 19.08.12
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New Delhi, Aug. 18: The Union cabinet has given its nod to a bill that aims to regulate street vendors and protect them from harassment with the onus on governments to help them access social security schemes.

Approved yesterday, the Street Vendors (Protection and Promotion of Livelihood) Bill is likely to be tabled during the ongoing Parliament session.

The cabinet’s nod comes around three years after the ministry of housing and urban poverty alleviation floated a Model Street Vendor’s (Protection of Livelihood and Regulation of Street Vending) Bill. The idea then was states would formulate their own laws based on this model bill.

This was five years after a policy on street vendors had been first floated during the NDA regime in 2004. But state governments were slow to react.

Last year, the National Advisory Committee, headed by Congress chief Sonia Gandhi, asked the government to come up with a Union law instead of a model bill.

Maharashtra and Chhattisgarh have since drafted municipal bylaws, while Rajasthan and Jharkhand recently passed their own laws on street vendors based on the 2009 model bill.

The Bengal government has been working on the bill too but had voiced reservations on its financial implications. “The Bengal government had stated that the bill would be difficult to implement as it entails spending a sizeable amount by state governments. We had told central assistance is available for street vendors under various schemes,” said a senior official of the housing and poverty alleviation ministry.

According to the bill, anyone 18 and above who intends to make a living as a street vendor has to apply for registration to a town vending committee. Children who are 14 and above can assist in the vending.

The application will have to be processed by municipal officials within a specified time. If they don’t, the applicant can be deemed as registered.

The bill also specifies that no application will be summarily rejected. Applicants will be given a chance to take care of the deficiencies in their applications.

According to the proposed legislation, municipalities will have to identify vending zones and allot space to vendors. They cannot reject an application citing lack of space. In case of lack of space, the bill has a provision for night bazaars, too.

The bill says each municipality should have a town vending committee, which should be the apex body for local street vendors. About 40 per cent of this committee will have to be street vendors.

The body will have to formulate terms and conditions, maintain records and a database about the vendors and conduct periodic surveys on them.

The bill says state governments will be responsible for providing soft loans, insurance and health care to the vendors, apart from organising training programmes to help them develop technical and business skills.