Municipal Corporation agrees to form committee of municipal authorities and street vendor leaders for regular interaction, initiate pilot projects in five areas marking yellow lines and digitalised survey of vendors before formation of TVC and Vending Zones

By StreetNet International
July 5, 2013
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Anguished and enraged over the non-implementation of the 2004 National Policy for Street Vendors in Ludhiana and the continuing harassment and eviction of street vendors, the National Association of Street Vendors of India {NASVI) and its affiliate Ludhiana Rehri Fadi Federation on Monday launched agitation demanding early formation of Town Vending Committee (TVC) with forty per cent representation of street vendor representatives and for creation of 75 Vending Zones across four municipal zones of the city. Approximately a thousand vendors joined a huge Aakrosh Sabha at the Guru Nanak Dev Bhawan in the city in which they slammed the municipal corporation for showing scant regard to the provisions of the National Policy which mandate protection of livelihood of vendors through forming the TVC and creating Vending Zones as well as several judicial pronouncements of the Supreme Court in favour of street vendors.

Addressing the vendors in the Aakrosh Sabha, NASVI national coordinator Arbind Singh called upon the vendors to unite to fight for protection of their fundamental right to secured and dignified livelihood. "The city is yours, you too have equal stakes in development and democracy", Mr. Singh told the participating vendors amidst thunderous applause and slogan shouting by the vendors.

NASVI coordinator said, "Ten years have passed since the announcement of the National Policy for Street Vendors and now the stage is also set for the much awaited central legislation in favour of street vendors, but the vendors still face continuous harassment and eviction. The city is for all, it is not just for realtors, mall developers and propertied class. If our cities have to survive and grow in an inclusive manner, the working poor like street vendors would have to be integrated with city development plans."

He added that the cities and towns were changing rapidly and several opportunities also coming up. But many challenges have also surfaced. One of major challenges is to counter the growing victimization, deprivation and marginalisation of street vendors and other sections of working poor. These vulnerabilities and marginalization can only be checked through creating a supportive legal- administrative environment, developing integrative city development plans and putting in place corruption free efficient and responsive municipal governance.

Addressing the meeting, NASVI program manager Ranjit Abhigyan and Ludhiana Rehri Fadi Federation leaders came down heavily on the municipal corporation. They said "We engage with the municipal bodies across 23 states for pro-poor municipal governance. In Ludhiana also, we have time and again engaged with the municipal corporation and hoped that the street vendors who have been struggling hard to earn a descent living would be able to have a better time. But, our expectations have been belied. The municipal corporation has turned non-responsive."

They said "Last year when Shri Rakesh Verma took over the charge as the Commissioner of Ludhiana Municipal Corporation, we had called on him to discuss the issues of street vendors, particularly the issue of non- implementation of the National Policy for Street Vendors. After discussion, Shri Verma had called for a formal Proposal. After much efforts and mapping, we submitted a Proposal to the Municipal Corporation along with a list of 77 potential Vending Zones having no traffic problems. The Corporation officials assured that the Proposal would be considered. However, it is unfortunate to learn that instead of working on the Proposal and providing a fair deal to the street vendors, the Corporation often undertakes eviction drives."

"Ten days back, we had again called upon the Ludhiana Municipal Corporation to announce the early formation of the TVC and creation of 75 Vending Zones across four municipal zones of the city. We had announced that if the municipal corporation did not do that, the vendors would be launching protest. More than ten days have passed, but the municipal corporation has yet not taken note of the call of beleaguered street vendors. Now there is no option other than to resent and fight", the street vendors said.

Talking about the issues related to space allocation, Ludhiana Rehri Fadi Federation president Tirath Singh, general secretary Tiger Singh and vice president Jagdish Wallia said that the city had enough space to accommodate the street vendors. "The places proposed by us have no traffic problems. A large number of municipal councillors are also in favour of creating vending zones at those places", they said. The street vendor leaders said that they had been on the streets and they would be on the streets even when they would be evicted as there would not be any other option.

Several street vendor leaders representing different markets of the city also addressed the protest meeting expressing hurt and anguish over the insensitivity and callousness of the municipal body.

Post-meeting, a seven member delegation led by NASVI leader Arbind Singh called on Isha Kalia, additional commissioner of the MC and HS Gohalwaria, Mayor with their demands. The authorities agreed to form committee of municipal authorities and street vendor leaders for regular interaction, initiate pilot projects in five areas marking yellow lines and digitalized survey of vendors before formation of the TVC and the Vending Zones.

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