Even as municipal corporations of Vadodara and Rajkot have begun taking action against street vendors selling non-vegetarian food, and a councillor of the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation wrote a letter to commissioner asking for the removal of illegal vendors selling eggs and non-vegetarian food near educational and religious places and public roads in the interest of hygiene, ‘jeev daya’ and preservation of ‘culture’, Mirror has found that harassment of licensed street vendors is in violation of a directive of the government of India.
On May 18, 2021, the Centre had written to all states and Union Territories asking them once again to make sure that all street vendors are issued certificates and to make sure they are not harassed. Mirror has accessed this letter.
The Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs had sent the letter to all chief secretaries which states that the Street Vendors Act 2014 provides for the constitution of a Town Vending Committee in Urban Local Bodies. These were to issue Certificate of Vending (CoV) to identified vendors.
Rakesh Maheria, president of Laari Galla Patharna (street vendors) Sangh Gujarat, told Mirror, “There are 1.25 lakh vendors in Ahmedabad according to our survey who sell food, clothes etc. Of these, the AMC has issued COVs only to 42,000 people.”
He said there are more than 4,000 non-veg food vendors in Ahmedabad. “Only about 4% of them have VoCs,” he said. An official of the AMC, when asked, couldn’t immediately provide statistics of the number of vendors issued licences in Ahmedabad city.
No eviction, relocation, till all get licenses
The letter says that under section 3(3) of the Act, vendors are not supposed to be evicted or relocated unless the survey of all vendors is done and all vendors are issued CoVs. Maheria said, “Street vendors have a right to self-employment. If the issue is encroachment, then first allot plots from where they can do business.”
Continual harassment of vendors
The Centre’s letter mentions that a meeting had been chaired by Union MoS with state officials on August 18, 2020. However, complaints of harassment by civic and police officials continue to be received by the ministry. It also notes that the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Urban Development had asked that the list of identified street vendors be shared with local police stations to avoid harassment.
However, Ravindra Patel, DCP Zone 1 Ahmedabad, who was transferred to the city on August 1, 2020, said, “I am not aware of any such list having been shared during my tenure. I will have to check if it has been shared earlier.”
‘Targetting of poor not done in civilised society’
Arbind Singh, who heads the National Association of Street Vendors of India (NASVI), told Mirror, “If they want to cut down on non-vegetarian food, go shut down the major sellers if you can. Targetting of the poorest is unbearable in any civilised society.”