Tag Archive | Street Vendor Delhi

Press Note: Lawyers, human rights commissions’ functionaries and civil liberty & labour rights activists call for protecting human rights of street vendors and release Street Vendors’ Human Rights Charter

New Delhi, 7 June:  Eminent lawyers representing Supreme Court and different High Courts, human rights commissions’ functionaries, civil liberty organizations representatives and labour & human rights activists on Thursday joined the National Consultation on Protecting Human Rights of Street Vendors organized by National Association of Street Vendors of India (NASVI) in Delhi to voice their serious concern over the growing incidence of street vendors’ human rights violation.

They demanded of the governments, municipal bodies and law enforcing agencies to ensure that the working poor’s human rights are protected   at any cost as violations of their rights badly impact the internationally mandated right to social dignity in employment.  Moreover, the violations create ruptures in governance and lead to social, economic and political divisions.

The consultation also declared Street Vendors’ Human Rights Charter.  The charter calls upon the Government of India, State Governments and Union Territories Administrations to strictly abide by the constitutional provisions that make secured and dignified livelihood and social security the fundamental human rights.

The Charter demands of the government to honour its commitment made to various international  bodies  as well as international labour and human rights treaties , including Universal Declaration of Human Rights, 1948, Prevention of Discrimination (Employment and Occupation) Convention, 1958 and  Employment Policy Convention, 1964,  that  clearly state that right to social dignity in employment is a fundamental human right  and any infringement upon it violates the principles of free and open competition in addition to individual rights to work and non- discrimination.

The charter calls upon the Government of India to make appropriate and adequate provisions in the proposed central law that it is making to protect and regulate the livelihood of street vendors. It also demands from the Union Home Ministry to write to the Director Generals of Police (DGPs) to instruct the Superintendents of Police / Police Commissioners to maintain zero tolerance over the  cases of street vendors’ human rights violation.

The charter calls upon the National and State Human Rights Commissions, Courts, Bar Associations, Tribunals, Media and Civil Society to stand firm in support of protecting human rights of street vendors.

The consultation was joined among others by Justice A. K. Ganguly, former judge of the Supreme Court,  Supreme Court lawyer Jayshree Satpute,  E. S. Jose of Madras High Court, P.K. Ibrahim of Kerala High Court, Navkiran Singh of Punjab and Haryana High Court,  Siddarth Sah of Uttarakhand High Court, Rajendra Soni of Jodhpur High Court,

Former police bureaucrat and currently the chairperson of  Delhi Commission for Protection of Child Rights Amod Kanth, former judge of Patna High Court and currently  a member of Bihar Human Rights Commission Rajendra Prasad,  Jagdish Bhalla of Punjab Human Rights Commission,  J. B. Koshy of Kerala Human Rights Commission,  Professor in Law, Delhi University Kamala Shankaran  and human rights activist of Punjab Kulwant Singh Nagra also joined the consultation and provided valuable inputs to develop effective strategies to protect human rights of street vendors.

The street vendors from different cities and towns who have had faced serious  human rights violations and a group of family members of those street vendors who had to sacrifice their lives fighting against the atrocities of municipal authorities, police and mafias also participated in the consultation and shared their testimonies with the lawyers, human rights activists and human rights commissions functionaries. Those who shared their testimonies include Rekha Devi, Premsheela and Lalita of Patna, Md. Siraj of Bulandshahr, Babulal of Delhi, Ram Milan Gaur of Chandigarh, Shankar Das of Midnapore, Omprakash Devra of Jodhpur and Jaylal of Surat.

Earlier in the day, setting the perspective and agenda of the consultation, NASVI National Coordinator Arbind Singh said, “ensuring human rights of the working poor like street vendors is one of top markers of a live democracy. Unfortunately our democracy lacks in this capacity. The human rights violation destructs livelihood and make dignified earning and living a very painful struggle. “

He said, “Growing livelihood insecurity, atrocities of police-municipalities and attacks on human dignity are major cases/indicators of human rights violation. Street vendors face tremendous harassment and torture by municipal authorities and police personnel under the pretext of this or that incident of encroachment and security in almost all cities of India. The level of harassment is such that it undermines the fundamental right of the street vendors to carry on their businesses to earn a descent living.”.

“The Supreme Court of India has also time and again indicted the governments for trampling the human rights of street vendors. In October, 2010, the apex court ruled that the government must bring in effective law to protect the livelihood right of street vendors as existing policy has not ensured the protection of their basic right”, Mr. Singh added.

Asserting that the sustenance of livelihood with dignity is a major struggle for the street vendors, NASVI Coordinator said that several provisions of existing municipal laws and police acts do not recognize street Vending as legal entities and those provisions are used, as means of extortion and bribery by the thugs and muggers of police and municipal departments.

He said, “The consultation being organized intends to bring together the experts on human rights, eminent lawyers and social activists who can better guide us firming up the strategies to protect the human rights of street vendors and other sections of urban poor.

Municipal bodies go to polls in Punjab NASVI Rath Campaign generates heat Vendors gherao Ludhiana Municipal Commissioner

NASVI in association with Ludhiana Rehri Fadi Federation organized a Rath Campaign in the city from 26 to 28 May, 2012. The purpose of the campaign was to trigger organizing of street vendors in different markets of the city and influence the municipal body to sincerely implement the National Policy for Street Vendors.

The Rath departed from Delhi on 25 May evening from Delhi and reached Ludhiana on the next day morning. It got decked up with impressive banners reading  punching themes like Jo Rehri Fadi Walon Ke Hit ki Baat Karega/ Who Rehri Fadi Walon ke Dil par Raj Karega/ Aur Wohi Nagar Nigam Chunav me Vote ka Hakdar Banega.

The campaign got flagged off from Jawahar Nagar Camp Market where a meeting was organized. It was waved off by Ludhiana MLA Ranjit Singh Dhillon.  On the first day, the Rath toured 12 market areas of the city. Street/Market meetings were organized in each area and leaflets were distributed among vendors and other sections of society.

On 27 May, ie, the second day, the Rath was flagged off  by Ludhiana Deputy Mayor Praveen Bansal from Jagraon Bridge amidst shouting slogans of  street vendors demanding fair deal from the municipal body. The Rath criss crossed more than a dozen dense market areas.

On 28 May, ie the last day, the campaign reached its crescendo. The Rath with  a large number of street vendors reached the office of the Ludhiana Municipal Corporation Commissioner. The vendors squatted at the main entry of the office and announced that the Commissioner would have to meet the delegation of the vendors. A prominent social justice leader of Ludhiana Vijay Danav also reached there to express his support to the campaign.

Feeling the heat of the campaign just before the elections of the municipal bodies in Punjab, Ludhiana Municipal Commissioner invited a delegation of vendors for talk. The crowd sent a five member delegation comprising NASVI Program Manager Ranjit Abhigyan, Ludhiana Street Vendors Federation President Tirath Singh, Vice President Jagdish Walia, General Secretary Tiger Singh and street vendor leader Bal Krishna Pappi to talk to the commissioner. The meeting lasted for 40 minutes and the Commissioner had to announce that he would develop an action plan within 10 days for policy implementation and then he would invite the NASVI and Ludhiana Street Vendor Federation representatives to give inputs on the action plan.

When the delegation returned from Commissioner’s chamber and announced the points of discussion before the agitating vendors,  the  air rent with slogans  Nagar Nigam ko Jawabdeh banana hoga, Rehri Fadi walon ki Aajiwika ki Raksha karni hogi.  After the gherao of the Municipal Commissioner, the Rath covered other areas of the city.

Altogether, the Rath covered 35 market areas in the city. More than 50 meetings were organized and approximately 20,000 leaflets in Hindi and Gurumukhi were distributed.

The campaign evoked good responses from even media. One English Newspaper wrote Street Vendors Rath Yatra Grabs MC poll candidates Attention and others penned Street Vendors Launch Campaign for Livelihood Right.

Growing Urbanization, Street Vendors and Policy Response

Things must change as soon as possible

The cities and towns in India have come a long way since the time of independence and so is the case with the millions of the poor and vulnerable living or reaching there. The current urban population in the country is estimated at more than 377 million. It is said that the degree of urbanization in India is not so much fast, but the actual number of country’s urban population is next only to China. While the country’s population has increased by 17.64% in 2001-2011, the urban population grew by 31.80% in the same period as compared to rural areas growth at the rate of 12.18 %.

It is also true in Indian case of urbanization that while Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra and Gujarat are witnessing rapid urbanization, states like Bihar, Assam and Orissa are far behind in this process. Among the states and union territories, the national capital territory of Delhi is most urbanized with 97.5% urban population closely followed by Chandigarh (97.25%). Over the years, the distribution of urban population in cities has shifted significantly in favor of metropolitan cities which account for close to one-third of India’s total urban population. Another one-third is shared by the cities which have their population in the range of one lakh to ten lakh. The number of cities with a population of more than ten lakh has risen to 35. Mumbai, Kolkata and Delhi have their population in crores. It is also not that only rural-urban migration is fuelling the urbanization. Several other factors are also contributing it , such as natural growth in areas of cities and towns as well as reclassification of rural areas as urban.

Now look at the dimensions of urban poverty…though the definition of poverty in India is very skewed and uni-dimensional, however the latest figures suggest that more than 31% of the Indian urban population is poor and that 25% of the country’s poor live in urban areas. Moreover the census data often reflect inherent problem of uniformity in defining slums, poor record on slums and lack of information on towns with less than 50,000 population and slum clusters with less than 300 population. With growing informalisation of economy and feminization of poverty, the people have started fearing today that this number of urban poor and vulnerable will increase massively in coming future in the absence of a well planned long term strategy. And, this genuine concern throws up the real questions. What are the issues that must not go unnoticed, but are going unnoticed by our planners and politicians in the current era of ‘mega’ urban development?

To understand the factors and issues that contribute to vulnerabilities of urban working mass, we do need to have an unbiased understanding of the Indian retail sector and its composition and contribution.  Everyone considers Indian retail as a formidable pillar of national economy as it contributes 14% to the GDP and has the capacity of employing 7 % of the total workforce. It is the largest source of employment after agriculture. However, it is highly fragmented with 97 % of its business is run by unorganized retailers. While organized retail trade employs approximately 5 lakh people, unorganized retail trade provides employment to nearly 3.95 crores. According to an estimate, total turnover of unorganized retailers comes to about Rs. 7, 35,000 crores.

Street Vending is a major form of retail trade and the street vendors constitute a major mass of retailers.  As per government’s own admission, the total number of street vendors in the country is estimated at around 1 crore. Some studies estimate that street vendors constitute approximately 2 per cent of the population of a metropolis. They represent the unorganized sector of retail industry and stand in sharp contrast to organized retailers like hypermarkets, supermarkets, big retail chains, etc. They contribute immensely to local and national economy, and provide cheap and affordable services to cross sections of society.  And, in performing that, they stand quite independent as they do not depend on government subsidies or private charity. The total employment provided through street vending becomes massive when we consider the fact that they sustain certain industries by providing markets for their products. Many of the goods sold by street vendors, such as clothes and hosiery, leather and moulded plastic goods and household goods, are manufactured in small scale or home-based industries. These industries employ a large number of workers and they mainly rely on street vendors to market their products. In this way street vendors help sustain employment in these industries.

It is indeed ironic that the existing policy and legal environment do not favour street vendors much.  The country has a National Policy for Urban Street Vendors framed in 2004, revised later in 2009.  A Model Draft Bill was also prepared in 2009 and the Prime Minister of India, by a letter dated 04. 08.2009, issued to the Chief Ministers of States and UTs, sought implementation of National Policy for Street Vendors taking into account the Model Bill-2009. However, the government itself has admitted that the implementation has been dismal in several states. A few months ago, the Minister of Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation Kumari Selja also made a statement in this regard.  In October, 2010, the Supreme Court of India [2010(11) SCALE 36]( dated 08.10.2010)  had also categorically stated the need of law for street vendors as policy failed to protect the fundamental right to livelihood of street vendors.

In last couple of years, the street vendors of the country under the umbrella of National Association of Street Vendors of India (NASVI) struggled a lot to get a central law in their favour. They campaigned on the streets, advocated with the institutions of governance like Ministry of Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation (MHUPA), approached the National Advisory Council (NAC) and turned successful to the extent that the NAC recommended for central law to Government of India. It is really good news that the MHUPA has initiated the process of drafting the Bill.  The President of India in her address to the Parliament on 12 March, 2012 also announced that her government was working on a central legislation to protect the livelihood right of street vendors.

The policy makers, planners and administrators do need to accord a new deal to street vendors and the new deal is possible only through bringing in an effective and comprehensive central law. Such a law should have key elements like earmarking of two per cent of street space for vending, provisions to protect and promote natural and weekly markets, bringing railway land under the purview of the Act, appellate authority system for grievance redressal, clear procedures for confiscation of goods and eviction of vendors and guidelines for time bound resettlement and rehabilitation in cases of eviction.

Besides putting in place an effective legal framework, the critical needs also include capacity development of urban local bodies and making them responsive and accountable and integrative planning and fund allocation for unorganized retailers like street vendors for setting up vending zones and markets. The government and the RBI are also required to evolve suitable lending policies to enable unorganized retailers to expand and improve efficiencies.  The commercial banks should also introduce loan scheme for street vendors. Running skill development training programs for street vendors and their children is also badly needed.

Lastly, we must not forget that the root of the problems in tackling rising urban poverty in India not only lies in the late realization of the importance of urban development by the state, but also mainly in its endemic confusion to look at urban poverty in the framework of urban development. The problems of the city’s informal settlements have not been seen as the government’s failure to ensure right to shelter and services to the poor. The issues of urban poor have never been on agenda of planning for the city. As a result, even today, the programs and policies for urban development and urban poverty alleviation are conceptualized, formulated and implemented separately. Things must change as soon as possible.

Author: Ranjit Abhigyan

Program Manager, NASVI

Brief Report of NASVI November 2011 Events

Brief Report

Asian Workshop on Street Vending, All India Street Vendors’ Convention on Cities for All, Street Food Festival and Annual General Meeting of NASVI Conclude Successfully in Delhi.

Government to bring in Bill for Central Law soon

New Delhi, 21 November:

The three day events of Asian Workshop on Street Vending, All India Street Vendors’ Convention on Cities for All, Street Food Festival and Annual General Meeting of NASVI concluded successfully on 20 November, 2011. The events evoked good responses and in particular thousands thronged to the venue of Street Food Festival to join and relish the delicacies, charm and vibrance of street foods from across India. The Union Minister of Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation Kumari Selja inaugurated the national convention and announced amidst thunderous applause that the Government of India would bring in central law to protect the livelihood and social security rights of street vendors. The Minister of State of Agriculture and Food Processing Industries Harish Rawat graced the occasion of Street Food Festival as the chief guest. The Minister of Urban Development and Housing, Bihar Prem Kumar also joined the convention as an esteemed guest.

Asian Workshop on Street Vending
The event took place on 18 November with street vendor organizations’ representatives of India, Nepal, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Indonesia, South Korea and Philippines meeting at Tivoli Garden in Delhi to take stock of the situation of street vendors in different countries of Asia, the responses of national governments towards livelihood right of street vendors and chalk out country specific plan of action. The participants of the workshop also discussed on the nature of municipal governance of various Asian countries, shared their experiences on organizing and agitations, and formed an Asia level Alliance of Street Vendor Organizations to advance the street vendor movement in the continent. The representative of StreetNet International, the Durban based international collective of vendor organizations of Africa, Latin America and Asia, also joined the workshop. The workshop was organized with support from StreetNet International.

National Convention of Street Vendors on Cities for All
The event took place on 19 November at the main lawns of VP House in Delhi. It was attended by more than 1000 street vendor representatives of different states of India. The Union Minister of Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation Kumari Selja inaugurated the huge convention and announced that the central government would bring in Bill in the coming
session of parliament for central law to protect the fundamental right to livelihood of millions of street vendors of the country.
The Minister said that the government was committed to accord a new deal towards achieving the secured and dignified livelihood and social security rights of the street vendors who form a critical mass of population, but got disenfranchised in the processes of rapid urbanization and unequal urban distribution system.

The Minister said, “The Ministry of Housing & urban Poverty Alleviation had come up with a new National Policy on Urban Street Vendors in 2009 after a review of the previous policy. The Policy underscores the need for a legislative framework to enable street vendors to pursue an honest living without harassment from any quarter. We had drafted a Model Street Vendors (Protection of Livelihood and Regulation of Street Vending) Bill, 2009 and circulated to all States/UTs, requesting them to take a cue while legislating on the subject.” She lamented that” the progress on state legislation had not been encouraging.” The Minister added, “We have received continuous representations from the individual street vendors and their organizations like NASVI to bring a central legislation which would be uniformly and mandatorily applicable to all the states and UTs. We are working to evolve and effective and practical central legislation for protection of livelihood rights and social security of street vendors in consultation with all concerned stakeholders including State Government.” Hailing the announcement of the Minister in the national convention, NASVI Coordinator Arbind Singh said, “This is the first major milestone which we have crossed. A couple of days back, the Attorney General of India had also opined in favour of the central law and now the Minister of Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation has also unveiled the agenda. We have long been campaigning for such a law. In August this year, we had also gheraoed the Parliament demanding central law and had met the MHUPA Minister Kumari Selja who had gracefully appreciated the need and significance of our demand.” Mr. Singh added, “Now that they have agreed, it is urgent and important for us to speed up the campaign to get the right Bill prepared, introduced and enacted by Parliament.”

He added, “Planners of national economy also need to be more pro- urban poor. The Approach Paper to XII Five Year Plan lacks on several counts and fails to centre stage vulnerable urban groups like street vendors in planning designs and processes. Much trumpeted inclusive growth strategies are bound to fail if the organizations of the poor are not given due role in planning processes.”
Ms. Selja also felicitated the two street vendors in the convention who have shown exemplary courage to fight out the odds and adversities towards securing their livelihood, and have taken painstaking initiatives to build and expand the street vendor organization. Before felicitation, video clippings on lives and struggles of the nominees were shown to the audience in a very emotionally charged atmosphere. After the video presentation, jury members came over to the dais and handed over the envelope of the awardees. The Hon’ble Minister opened the envelopes and announced the name of awardees in both categories. The first category award was given to Rekha Devi of Patna. Kaushal Kishore of Jharkhand fetched the second category award. All nominees were felicitated with certificates of honour.

The urban development minister of Bihar Prem Kumar, Begusarai (Bihar) Mayor Alok Kumar Agrawal, Additional and Deputy CEOs of Chhattisgarh Urban Development Agency and representatives from international development agencies, such as Wilma Rose of FNV, Netherlands, and civil society organizations also attended the convention as guests.

The street vendor leaders from several Asian countries including Philippines, South Korea, Indonesia, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Nepal, Bangladesh and Nepal also addressed the convention.

The convention was addressed among others by NASVI President Manali Shah (Gujarat), NASVI Vice President Chandra Prakash Singh (Bihar) and Irshad Ahmed (UP) and NASVI Secretaries V. Mangeswaran (Tamil Nadu) and Ghanshyam Kotwani (Rajasthan) and several street vendor leaders representing different states of India.

Street Food Festival
The two day long Street Food Festival began at the same venue in Delhi on 19 November evening. Selected 27 street food stalls of different states from Kerala to Assam and from Punjab to West Bengal, Jharkhand and Orissa were there in the festival. The Minister of Agriculture and Food Processing Industries Harish Rawat was the chief guest on the occasion. The festival was aimed at promoting the street foods from the streets across India with hygiene and affordable prices in the tough time of growing food insecurity and inflation.
The event turned highly successful as thousands from cross sections of society thronged to the venue on both days to relish the delicacies, charm and vibrance of the street foods. The Delhi AajTak and Red FM 93.5 were the partners of the event. The best three street food vendors would also be awarded soon. The selection of winners would be made by an independent panel of food critics who had attended the festival.

AGM of NASVI
On the last day of the events, Annual General Body Meeting (AGM) of NASVI took place on 20 November. It was attended by more than 400 selected delegates of street vendor organizations across 23 states of India. The AGM began with agenda finalization and condolence in memory of Ashish Raj, a 22 year old NASVI staff who died last year in an accident while he was returning after implementing the Hari Bhari Project.

The AGM discussed on the Annual Report presented by NASVI Coordinator and adopted it. The Membership and Financial Reports were also passed.

The AGM resolved to step up campaigns and advocacy efforts towards early enactment of central law for street vendors.
The other future plans finalized by the AGM include: Struggle for Implementation of Laws Enacted in States Capacity Building of Member Organizations Campaign and Advocacy for Plan Fund Allocation and Loan Schemes for Vendors Technical Support to Member Organizations and Municipal Corporations State and City level Workshops Vendors’ Day Celebration on 20 January Human Rights Day Celebration on 10 December Women’s Day Celebration on 8 March Strengthening of Women Cell and Women Street Vendor Organizations Trainings to New Member Organizations Expanding StreetNet Asia Focal Point Role Legal Aid and Lawyers’ Network Strengthening Legal Handbook Publication Publication of Footpath ki Awaaj FAQs development Production of Videos Leadership Camps in States Registering National Thrift and Credit Cooperative Initiating Programs for Financial Innovation Initiating and Streamlining Labour Net Scheme