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Implementing the Street Vendors Act (SVA)

  • Context (TH): Even after a decade of passing SVA, there have been numerous challenges in its implementation.
  • SVA was celebrated as a progressive legislation.

Challenges in the Implementation of the SVA

Administrative Challenges

  • Increase in harassment and evictions of street vendors despite the Act’s emphasis on protection and regulation.
    • Outdated bureaucratic mindset views vendors as illegal entities.
  • Lack of awareness and sensitisation about the Act among state authorities, the public, and vendors.
  • Limited influence of street vendor representatives in Town Vending Committees (TVCs), often remaining under the control of local city authorities.
    • Tokenistic representation of women vendors in TVCs.

Governance Challenges

  • The current urban governance mechanisms are weak and inadequate, highlighting the urgent need for improvement.
  • It is not integrated with the framework established by the 74th Constitutional Amendment Act (CAA) for urban governance.
  • Insufficient powers and capacities of ULBs.
  • Focus on top-down policies like the Smart Cities Mission on infrastructure development, ignoring provisions for the inclusion of street vendors in city planning.

Societal Challenges

  • The prevailing image of the ‘world-class city’ tends to be exclusionary.
  • Street vendors are marginalised and stigmatised as obstacles to urban development rather than legitimate contributors to the urban economy.
  • Reflection of these challenges in city designs, urban policies, and public perceptions of neighbourhoods.

Way forward

  • Decentralization of Interventions: There’s a need to decentralise interventions and enhance the capacities of Urban Local Bodies (ULBs) to plan for street vending in cities.
  • Shift from Department-led Actions to Deliberative Processes: It is crucial to shift from high-handed department-led actions to deliberative processes at the TVC level.
  • Amendments to Urban Schemes and Policies: Urban schemes, city planning guidelines, and policies need to be amended to include provisions for street vending.
  • Need-based Welfare Provisions: The Act’s welfare provisions should help vendors tackle challenges like climate change, e-commerce competition, and income reductions.
  • Adaptation in National Urban Livelihood Mission: The Urban Livelihood Mission’s street vendor section should adapt to new realities and encourage innovative solutions.

The SV (Protection of Livelihood and Regulation of Street Vending) Act, 2014:

  • The Act defines a “street vendor” as a person engaged in vending of articles of everyday use or offering services to the general public in any public place or private area, from a temporary built-up structure or by moving from place to place.
  • Its primary objective is to safeguard the rights of urban street vendors and regulate their activities.
  • It was to be implemented with State-level rules and schemes, which are executed by urban local bodies (ULBs) through by-laws, planning, and regulation.
  • The Act meticulously outlines the roles and responsibilities of both vendors and various levels of government, providing a clear framework for their interactions.
  • It establishes a participatory governance structure through Town Vending Committees (TVCs).
    • Street vendor representatives must constitute 40% of TVC members, with a sub-representation of 33% of women SVs.
    • TVCs are tasked with ensuring the inclusion of all existing vendors in vending zones.
  • It also outlines mechanisms for addressing grievances and disputes.
    • It proposes the establishment of a Grievance Redressal Committee chaired by a civil judge or judicial magistrate.
  • It provides that the States/ULBs survey to identify SVs at least once every five years.

Significance of street vendors

  • Role of Street Vendors: Street vendors constitute about 2.5% of any city’s population and play multifaceted roles in city life, providing essential services, modest income for migrants and the urban poor, and affordable goods for others.
    • According to the Ministry of Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation, there are around 10 million street vendors in India.
  • Integral to Urban Life: Street vendors are essential for maintaining affordability and accessibility to food, nutrition, and goods distribution
  • They are an integral part of Indian culture. For ex-, Imagine Mumbai without its vada pav or Chennai without its roadside dosa.
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