To protect the street vendors’ livelihoods, the Government of India, under the leadership of PM Narendra Modi, has enacted the Street Vendors (Protection of Livelihood and Regulation of Street Vending) Act, 2014. The street vendors act has been formulated to include all the street vendors within the social security nets and give them a representation in the decision-making body to regulate their vending activities. The street vendors act has been formed to give actual shape to the principles enshrined under Article 14 (Right to Equality) and freedom to practice any profession, business, or trade under Article 19 (g) of India’s Constitution.
The street vendors are the most important component of the urban economies around the world. They offer easy access to a wide range of goods and services in public spaces selling everything from fresh fruits, vegetables to prepared foods, building materials to garments, and also include consumer electronic goods to auto repairs, etc.
The street vendor’s definition has been provided in the National Policy on Urban Street Vendors, 2004, Department of Urban Employment & Poverty Alleviation, MUPA, Government of India. The definition of the street vendors is as, ” A street vendor is a person who offers goods or services for sale to the public without having a permanently built structure occupying a temporary space on pavements or any public or private area, establishing a movable stall, or they could be mobile, move from place to place carrying their products on pushcarts, cycles, baskets, or in moving buses.
The Indian Government has used the term ”street vendor” inclusive of both traders and service providers, stationary or mobile, and includes all local, regional specific term used to describe them as a hawker, pheriwala, footpath dukandars, traders, and more.
According to the Street Vendors Act, 2014, a maximum of 2.5 percent of a city’s population is a street vendor. With the urban population standing at around 377 million, the number of street vendors is expected to be around 10 million. The street vendors’ urban population had grown from 1.03 million in 1983 to 1.61 million in 2012. This figure is not even half of the calculations under the street vending Act and presumption made by the National Policy.
According to the NSSO Data, nearly 200,000 women and 21,500 children are presently engaged in the street vending occupation, and around 1.18 million households dependent on this sector as their primary source of income.
The number of street vendors is more likely to rise, with urbanization as a city like Mumbai has the maximum number of street vendors with 311,000 hawkers present in Mumbai. Thus, the street vendors act has been formulated to protect the vendors as they play a major role in facilitating job opportunities than any other informal sector.
Survey and Protection of Street Vendors from Eviction or Relocation
The Town Vending Committee will be responsible to survey all street vendors existing in India within such period and in a manner as prescribed by the scheme. Such a survey will be carried by the Town Vending Committee at least once every five years.
Subject to a norm conforming to two and a half percent, the Town Vending Committee will be empowered to ensure that all the existing street vendors are identified in the survey conducted by them.
No street vendor shall be subject to eviction or relocation till the survey by such Town Vending Committee has been conducted and a certificate of vending will be issued to all the street vendors.
After the conduction of the survey by the Town Vending Committee, every street vendor will be entitled to a Certificate of Vending issued by the Town Vending Committee as prescribed by the appropriate government. To obtain the certificate for vending, such street vendors must have completed the age of fourteen years or such age as prescribed by the appropriate government.
The Town Vending Committee may grant the certificate of vending to any person who wants to vend in the intervening period between two surveys conducted by the Town Vending Committee.
In a case where the number of street vendors are more than the holding capacity of vending zones and exceeds the number of vendors accommodated in the vending zones, the Town Vending Committee will draw the lots to issue the certificate. The remaining vendors will be accommodated in any adjoining vending zones; this will be done to avoid relocation of such street vendors.
Before the issuing of the certificate of vending, every street vendor is required to give an undertaking to the Town Vending Committee that:
The certificate of vending will be issued by the Town Vending Committee under the following categories-
While issuing the certificate of vending to the street vendors, the Town Vending Committee will provide preference to the Scheduled Castes, the Scheduled Tribes, Other Backward Classes, Women, Persons with disabilities, minorities, or such categories as specified.
The certificate of vending will be valid for such period as is specified in the scheme and will be renewable on payment of fees, as specified in the scheme.
Following are the rights as provided in the Street vendors Act, 2014-
Every street vendor will be entitled to carry on their business of street vending following the terms and conditions mentioned in the certificate of vending. In the case where any area has been earmarked as a ‘No Vending Zone’, no vending activities will be carried out on that area by any of the street vendors.
To resolve the disputes of the street vendors, a committee shall be constituted consisting of a Chairperson. Such chairperson will be a civil judge or a judicial Magistrate and will also consist of other two professionals having such experience as prescribed by the appropriate government. The employees of the appropriate government or local authority will not be appointed as the members of the committee.
The street vendor having a grievance or dispute can make an application to the committee in writing. The committee on receiving the application for redressal or dispute shall inquire. After the verification is conducted by the committee, it must take such steps for the redressal and settlement of grievances of the street vendors.
Any aggrieved person is entitled to appeal to the local authority within the period prescribed by the Act. The local authority before disposing of the appeal shall give an opportunity of being heard to the aggrieved party.
The Street vendors Act, 2014 provides that a street vendor who has been carrying out his street vending activities following the terms and conditions of his certificate of vending, shall not be prevented or prohibited from carrying out his vending business by any person or the police authorities.
Every street vendor shall be subject to such penalties for each offense as prescribed-
Within one year from the date of commencement of the Street Vendors Act, 2014, the appropriate government shall make rules to carry out the provisions of this Act. The rules provide for all or any of the following matters, namely-
The Central Government has launched a 20 lakh crores package to fight from the present financial crisis arising from the impact of COVID-19, and as a part of the Atmanirbhar Bharat Initiative, loans are being extended to the street vendors. With this, the Government has tried to bring life back to normal among the small and marginal street vendors and marginal traders. Around 5,978 small street vendors have been identified and eligible to avail the loans under the economic package. The loan amount of Rs. 10,000 is being extended to the street vendors, which will be repaid in 12 installments with an interest rate of 7 percent.
Along with the Government, our Organization, Aatmnirbhar Sena, is continuously working in line with the Modi Government’s initiatives and bringing life back to cope with the new normal situation. The Aatmnirbhar Sena has been providing various loans and assistance to the vendors in conducting their business activities on a very meager amount of interest rates. To a greater extent, all these efforts have helped to restore the lives of many street vendors and provide employment to them on a larger scale.
The Pradhan Mantri Street Vendor’s AtmaNirbhar Nidhi is being funded by the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs to facilitate the working capital loan up to Rs. 10,000 for the upliftment of the street vendors and hawkers of India.