Union Cabinet Approves Street Vendors` Bill in India

27 August 2012

The much awaited central law to protect the livelihood and social security rights of more than 10 million street vendors became a reality with the Union Cabinet on Friday, August 17 were the Street Vendors (Protection of Livelihood and Regulation of Street Vending) Bill, 2012 was approved. The Bill would now be placed in the Parliament for enactment.

Once enacted, the central law would prevail over all state municipal laws as well as police acts to the extent that they are inconsistent with the law for street vendors. It also would do away with the existing license system that has become a tool to victimize and harass the street vendors in almost all municipal areas in the country.

As per the Bill to be tabled in the Parliament, anyone over 18 years can apply and register as street vendor with respective Town Vending Committee (TVC) by making a payment of a one-time fee. Once registered, they will be given identity cards entitling them to sell their wares in specified vending zones.

The decision of making vending zones would be taken up by the respective TVC. Every TVC would have at least 40 per cent members from the street vendors (one-third of which shall be women vendors). Besides, the Bill contains provisions to protect and promote natural markets, weekly markets and night bazaars where vendors and hawkers can sell their wares.

The proposed legislation also has clear provisions for grievance redressal and transparency. The laid out provisions and mechanisms protect vendors from confiscation of their goods and forced eviction by authorities. An arrangement of appellate system also has been put in the proposed law wherein local authorities have been empowered to set up a permanent committee consisting of a person who has been a sub-judge or a judicial magistrate to redress vendors` grievances.

National Association of Street Vendors of India (NASVI), which has long been struggling for such a central law for protection of right to livelihood and social security of street vendors, has hailed the Cabinet clearing the Draft Bill prepared by the Ministry of Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation (MHUPA). In fact, last day NASVI had given a call to organize nationwide protests on 18 August demanding early cabinet approval to the Bill and sent a letter to the Prime Minister seeking his time on 18 August.

Appreciating the fast legislative process, NASVI national coordinator Arbind Singh said," We have been struggling for a comprehensive central law in favour of street vendors since 2009. In October, 2010, the Supreme Court verdict also justified our demand and the government was directed to convert the National Policy for Urban Street Vendors into a law as the policy has not been able to ensure the fundamental right to livelihood of street vendors. Post- Supreme Court verdict, the street vendors indeed struggled a lot to get Ministry of Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation convinced on the critical necessity of central law."

"We organised vendors to come on to the street in several cities in 2011 and approached the National Advisory Council (NAC), Prime Minister and UPA Chairperson for getting a central law. We also contacted several Members of Parliament and urged them to write to the Prime Minister. We even prepared a Model Draft Bill and shared it with the NAC and the MHUPA," said Mr. Singh.
He urged all political parties to wholeheartedly support the Bill in the upcoming session of Parliament and hoped that the much awaited central law would soon be a reality.

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StreetNet International

StreetNet International is an alliance of street vendors. It was launched in Durban, South Africa, in November 2002.

Membership-based organizations (unions, co-operatives or associations) directly organizing street vendors, market vendors and/or hawkers among their members, are entitled to affiliate to StreetNet International.

The aim of StreetNet is to promote the exchange of information and ideas on critical issues facing street vendors, market vendors and hawkers (i.e. mobile vendors) and on practical organizing and advocacy strategies