prabhat khabar epaper 17/08/2016

State govt clears rules for new hawker policy, vendors, activists wary about new process

The state government has notified rules setting in motion the process of implementation of a new hawking policy across the state.

The notification, issued on August 3, paves the way for the implementation of the Centre’s Right to Livelihood and Street Vending Act, 2014. The notified rules allow the BMC and all other municipal corporations and municipalities to set up a 20-member Town Vending Committee (TVC) to regulate hawking.

A scheme for hawking for every city will emerge out of consultations between the civic body and the TVC(see box). The labour commissioner will conduct elections to the panel after the civic body notifies a poll.

A civic body can have one TVC or a panel each for a zone or even a ward. Mumbai’s interests would be best served if there is only one TVC, said a senior civic official. “Ward-wise TVCs would have a very narrow view and may actually end up serving vested interests rather taking a holistic view .“ Nayana Kathpalia, member of the NGO Nagar that has been pushing for regulation of hawkers, fears that with street vendors having the highest representation on the TVC, the committee may end up approving a scheme that may not be in the overall interest of the city. “The administration will have to be very firm and ensure proper implementation of the Act which talks of deciding on vendors based on the holding capacity of an area (marked for hawkers),“ she said. The law also says any haw king scheme must “ensure the right of commuters to move freely and use roads without any impediment“.

“Eighteen years ago, when the Tata Institute of Social Sciences carried out a survey , they had identified 1.5 lakh vendors in the city. Since then the city has grown substantially and our estimate is that there are at least 2.6 lakh to 3 lakh vendors today ,“ said Shashank Rao, president of the Mumbai Hawkers’ Union.

He complained that only 1.5 lakh hawkers managed to register during a BMC survey a few years ago that was completed in days. Less than a lakh were found eligible. “Neither hawkers unions nor citizens were consulted. The government policy will not improve anything on the roads, it will only add to the existing chaos,“ he said.

Kathpalia pointed out that the scheme should have been finalized within six months of the Act coming into force. “It is now more than 18 months,“ she said.

Draft schemes have been prepared by the municipal commissioners of Mumbai, Thane, Navi Mumbai, Kalyan-Dombivli along with other senior officials. Kathpalia, who has got a copy of the Mumbai draft under the RTI Act, said perhaps the same draft be placed before the TVC for its suggestions and objections before being notified.

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