Thursday, June 18, 2015

Street Vendors Act, 2014

By enacting the Street Vendors Act, 2014, the government aimed to balance three key objectives - Protecting the livelihoods of the vendors, ensuring congestion free public spaces and streets and ensuring the convenience of vending services for the consumers. However while the intention was good, it has not translated on ground -
1. The Act aims at ensuring a uniform legal framework to protect the livelihood of street vendors. However, it leaves major areas of regulation to the street vending scheme to be formulated by the state governments and implemented by the local authorities.
2. Formation of the Town Vending Committee with at least 40% representation of street vendors, one third of whom are women is a good step. However, in the creation of the street vending plan or in dispute redressal mechanism, the TVC has no role whatsoever. The national policy on Urban Street Vending, 2009 required that TVCs be consulted while deciding the vending zones.
3. The role of TVCs has been reduced to specifying time limits for issue and renewal of registration and vending certificate. And to store data regarding street vendors like category of vending, stall allotted etc. Since this law supercedes the laws enacted by states like Rajasthan and Gujarat which provided significant powers to the TVCs, it is actually a step backwards.
4. The act specifies that no vendor can be evicted without a 7 day notice by the local authority. Also the vendor will be entitled to a separate vending location. This provision has however been observed only in its breach with vendors being evicted at will based on the whims and fancies of police and local authorities.
While the intentions and the provisions of the law are good, it has not had a material impact on the lives of the vendors themselves. Enacting good laws is not the solution to any problem. It is only the first step. What is more important is how it is implemented. Now that the first step has been taken, the government must ensure that its implementation is in step with the spirit of the law to ensure that the objectives behind its enactment are met.

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