Over four lakh vendors in the national are a harassed lot, as they are regularly evicted and their goods seized, but the survey to grant them vending certificates continues to be delayed. They are still to be issued vending licences and vending zones are yet to be created for them.

Earlier this week, over a thousand street vendors gathered outside the office of the Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) to protest against the eviction that followed after Lieutenant Governor Anil Baijal ordered to “clear the roads of encroachments”.

Complaining against the eviction, Ashfaq, a juice vendor in Karol Bagh, said, “The Lieutenant Governor did not tell the MCD to remove vendors from the streets. Our vending sites are not encroachments because we are protected by the law as we are waiting for the survey to end to get our vending certificates. Once we have vending permits, we will not have to bother about the police evicting us without giving a reason.”

According to the National Association of Street Vendors of India (NASVI), the city authorities have been using a nondescript High Court order to remove encroachments, thus affecting the street vendors. Arbind Singh, National Coordinator, NASVI, said, “The vendors have not been shown any letter or directive for eviction. However, we have come to know that the vendors are being evicted because of court order dated 30.05.2017, Manu Sharma vs Govt. of NCT of Delhi & Ors. Heard that the Lieutenant Governor of Delhi has ordered removal of encroachments and de-congestion of city roads, but when we met the LG, he clarified that the order was for removal of encroachments and not removal of street vendors. He has also written to the Delhi government to examine the complaint.”

NASVI officials point out that the Street Vendors (Protection of Livelihood and Regulation of Street Vending) Act, 2014 says that, “No street vendor shall be evicted or relocated till the survey specified under sub-section (1) has been completed and the certificate of vending is issued to all street vendors”. They added that this clause was upheld by the Delhi High Court in an earlier case fought between NASVI and the South Delhi Municipal Corporation in January last year, that also allowed the evicted vendors to return to their spots.

Singh said: “Till date, street vendors from 45 markets have been evicted, their goods have either been seized or destroyed in an inhuman way. All the three political parties in Delhi had promised to issue licences to vendors and create vending zones in the city. Before coming to power, the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) had put the cause of street vendors on their manifesto. The AAP suggested to constitute 71 Town Vending Committees in the capital instead of only one as was decided in the Act. This has proved foolish and has caused unnecessary delay in the completion of the survey.” NASVI has a registered number of one lakh street vendors in Delhi, while the estimated number of vendors is said to be between 4-5 lakh in the capital. Most of the vendors are migrants who came to Delhi in search of employment. 

While P.K. Gupta, Municipal Commissioner, North Delhi Municipal Corporation (NDMC), Deepak Hastir, additional commissioner, NDMC, as well as Meeta Singh, South Delhi Municipal Corporation (SDMC), have assured action and have asked for the list of markets with the name of vendors, the vendors whose households depend on vending continue to suffer. 

Manish, a fruit vendor in Trilokpuri, said, “MCD should issue us confiscation receipts so that we can pay the fine and release our goods that they take away. If the confiscated items include eatables, officials consume it or they turn stale and useless.”

Lohiya, a toy vendor at India Gate, said, “We give money to police which they share with the MCD officials too. Then they evict us and take our goods away. I have to support a family of five. If I am not able to sell my goods, I will be forced to indulge in unlawful activities.”

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