Street vendors in India provide a vital link between the producer and the consumer, connecting the two in highly innovative, cost-efficient ways- keeping in view regional specificities as well as varied requirements of people during different seasons, festivals as well as the time of the day or night. As per the National Policy for Street Vendors, nearly 2.5% of the urban population is involved in street vending and hawking. This means this occupation provides livelihood to nearly one crore persons in India. With an average of four dependents per vendor, the survival of five crore people is dependent on street trading. Calculated at an average daily turnover of Rs 1100 per day per vendor, the total turnover of one crore street vendors in India would be a whopping Rs 1100 crores per day.
Important Role of Vendors: Street vending is an important source of self-employment for the poor in India. Both the government and the organized sectors of our economy are unable to provide employment to more than 6-7% of our working population. The vast majority of our citizens have therefore no choice but to generate their own employment. Most vendors are migrants from impoverished rural families. A large part of the incomes they make in urban areas goes to support their village-based families, which could not sustain themselves in farming without these cash inflows. Migration to cities due to destitution would increase manifold without these regular remittances.
Street vending is one of the few entrepreneurial activities that poor people can undertake by investing small amounts of capital combined with hard work and long working hours to eke out a living with the possibility of upward mobility. It is due to their astute grasp of customer demand that they manage to survive in competition with bigger stores. Many like Gulshan Kumar of T Series have grown from being street traders to builders of business empires. Lakhs of Punjabis who came to India as penniless refugees after Partition began their new life in India as footpath sellers in places like Delhi’s Chandni Chowk and Karol Bagh are today multi-millionaires. If such sources of livelihood and upward mobility are denied to the poor, large sections of our population will remain forever mired in poverty.
1) Apart from generating their own employment, vendors help generate employment in the farm sector by distributing fruits, vegetables and spices from wholesale mandis to every nook and corner of the city with remarkable speed and efficiency.
2) They support many small-scale industries by acting as the most efficient, low-cost distribution channel for their low priced goods in every part of the country.
3) By distributing items of daily consumption at relatively low prices for all classes of consumers at convenient locations, hawkers save urban citizens a great deal of time, energy and money in procuring daily requirements.
4) If there are no vendors, road congestion and pollution due to vehicular traffic will increase manifold since people will have to drive or travel long distances to far-away markets and mandis or malls to buy daily necessities. That will mean an enormous waste of time, money and petrol and cause even more vehicular chaos on our streets.
5) Vendors consume very little electricity in comparison to department stores and cold chains that guzzle a lot of power to prevent food items from rotting.
6) The presence of street vendors brings greater security and safety in urban areas. Places, where streets are alive and busy till late hours, such as Delhi’s Jama Masjid and Chandni Chowk, are far safer than deserted colonies like Vasant Kunj or Nizamuddin East. In the latter type of colonies, residents have to organize elaborate private security arrangements to keep criminals at bay whereas people in areas where shops and vending stalls stay open till late have no such requirement or fear.
Social Consequences of Insecurity and Stigma of Illegality: Draconian laws against vending and brutal police action have never succeeded in making the vendors disappear. All it does is to strengthen the hold of extortionist mafias and anti-social elements that prey on these self-employed urban poor. By making it impossible for people to get a legal entry point in this occupation municipal agencies have transformed a perfectly legitimate and socially useful occupation into an illegal, high-risk venture with criminal mafias controlling the entire sector of street vending. When an impoverished migrant comes to the city in search of work and decides to adopt street hawking as an occupation since he cannot just walk into a municipal office and get a license and permission to set up a stall or a mobile rehdi he has no choice but to strike a “deal” with either a local tout euphemistically referred to as the local “pradhan” to let him/her occupy a bit of space on a footpath or some public space to set up a stall. This is contributing to a large scale criminalization of society.
The Capital of India must show through a concrete example to the rest of the country how street vendors can be accommodated in the cityscape in an orderly and aesthetic manner instead of being treated as a nuisance, how our cities can become world-class while giving due consideration to the livelihood concerns of the urban poor and rural migrants in urban planning and space allocation. Creating aesthetically designed vibrant vendor zones will be a major step towards transforming Delhi into a world-class City that gives due respect to the legitimate requirements of all its citizens, including the self-employed poor.
Street Vendor Protection Authority: In order to implement the aims and objectives of the National Policy for Street Vendors, a duly-empowered Street Vendor Protection Authority will be established by the MCD. Its composition will be as follows:
a) Chairperson: Commissioner MCD
b) Three urban planners/architects with a track record of creating urban spaces for the urban poor.
c) Two municipal counsellors selected through a draw of lots by rotation;
d) Two representatives from reputed NGO’s with a credible track record of working for the welfare of street vendors;
e) Four representatives of vendors selected through a draw of lots from among applicants for vending licenses who are operating their own stalls personally.
f) An IT expert who can mentor the implementation of the new street vendor policy and Street vendors’ Welfare Schemes using cutting edge technology;
g) Representative of bank/banks that partner with the DSVLPA to provide micro saving and micro-credit facilities to street vendors;
h) A Representative of Traffic Police.
i) An independent expert on traffic management.
j) Two representatives from RWAs by rotation who expressly commit themselves to improve the working conditions and liberalizing the licensing regime for vendors.
The SVPA will be fully authorized to hire the required personnel for efficient and honest implementation of the national policy for street vendors and institutionalize appropriate and efficient mechanisms for the same.
Specific Objectives of SVPA:
1) Legal: To give vendors legal status by amending, enacting, repealing and implementing appropriate laws and providing legitimate hawking zones in urban development/ zoning plans.
2) Civic Facilities: To provide facilities for appropriate use of identified space including the creation of hawking zones in the urban development/ zoning plans
3) Regulation: To eschew imposing numerical limits on access to public spaces by discretionary licenses and instead of moving to nominal fee-based regulation of access, where market forces like price, quality and demand will determine the number of vendors that can be sustained. Such a demand cannot be unlimited.
4) Role in distribution: To make Street vendors a special component of the urban development /zoning plans by treating them as an integral and legitimate part of the urban distribution system.
5) Self Compliance: To promote self-compliance amongst Street vendors.
6) Organization: To promote, if necessary, organizations of Street vendors e.g. Unions / Co-operatives/ Associations and other forms of organization to facilitate their empowerment.
7) Participation: To set up participatory mechanisms with representation by urban vendors’ organizations, (Unions / Co-operatives/ Associations), Voluntary organizations, local authorities, the police, Residents Welfare Association (RWAs) and others for the orderly conduct of urban vending activities.
8) Social Security & Financial Services: To facilitate/ promote social security (pension, insurance, etc.,) and access to credit for Street vendors through promotion of SHGs/co-operatives/Federations/Micro Finance Institutions (MFIs) etc.
Mandate of the Street Vendors Protection Authority:
1) To dismantle the existing License Quota-Raid-Regime currently enforced on street vendors.
2) To evolve a transparent and realistic need-based criteria for issuing vending/hawking licenses keeping in view the market demand for services of street vendors as recommended in the Prime Minister Vajpayee’s policy reform framework for street vendors announced in August 2001. This needs to be harmonized with the criterion recommended by the National Policy for Street Vendors which suggests that vending licenses be issued in tune with the population size of a city. Some studies have shown that 2% to 2.5% of the urban population is engaged in street vending in any urban centre. This criterion allows for a natural increase in the number of vending licenses to keep in tune with the population size of the city.
3) To evolve and institutionalize a transparent, efficient and vendor friendly regime of issuing tehbazari licenses to hawkers, vendors, pheriwalas as well as for those who hawk in weekly markets and haats. Each authorized vendor should receive an identification card, including the names of family members who are part of the vending operation. The SVPA will have the authority to decide the annual fee for tehbazari license.
4) To create world-class infrastructure for Hawking Zones and Hawking Clusters by involving the best of urban planners to make hawkers and vendors an integral part of the cityscape in an aesthetic and orderly manner;
5) To institutionalize the most efficient, honest, transparent and rigorous mechanisms for enforcing civic discipline among vendors/hawkers as well as citizens who use their services. This should include transparent and non-partisan methods of enforcing penalties on vendors as well as those whose job it is to monitor and enforce discipline.
6) To evolve and institutionalize an honest transparent, convenient, digitalized and vendor friendly efficient mode of tehbazari fee collection which takes speedy disciplinary action against defaulters.
7) To provide all necessary civic amenities to hawker//vendor markets, such as clean and adequate drinking water, clean toilets,
8) To make various social security schemes available to vendors, including health insurance, life insurance, micro-savings, micro-credit and clean night shelters for those who are too poor to rent or own accommodation in Delhi.
Tasks to be undertaken by the SVPA:
1) To commission an independent credit agency to undertake a comprehensive digitalized Citywide Photo Survey and Census of street vendors and hawkers to have a realistic estimate of the number of vendors actually operating in the City and to identify their exact locations as well as areas of over congestion.
2) To create a regularly updated digitalized database of genuine vendors actually operating in the streets and markets of Delhi as well as of their hired assistants in each municipal zone of Delhi. The photo census must include self-correcting mechanisms so that it can be a reliable source for the above mentioned digitalized database. The photo census will include:
- Name of the vendor/Name of spouse
- Home address of the vendor
- Vehicle used for selling (patri, rehri, mobile stall, etc.)
- Products sold
- Number of years of vending at that location.
- Whether the vendor is already a tehbazaari holder.
Each vendor surveyed will also be photographed digitally. After the full Census survey is completed a random sample will be taken from it to validate the accuracy of the survey.
3) To evolve and institutionalize a transparent, efficient and time-bound system for inviting applications for vending licenses, cross-checking them with the digitalized photo census data to shift genuine vendors from Benami vendors who claim spaces and licenses only to sell or rent them out on a profit and to issue tehbazari licenses in the form of I Cards/ Smart cards with bio-metric identity markers.
4) To mobilize the best of urban planners to create well planned and aesthetically designed Hawker Zones and space for hawker clusters in all the 12 municipal zones of Delhi as well as in NDMC and Cantonment area. This will include improved designs for roads, footpaths and other available spaces for hawker markets/. hawker clusters and individual kiosks in a manner that the legitimate requirements of other road users—pedestrians, motorized vehicle owners, cycle rickshaws etc. are duly respected while designing hawking zones and clusters; Special attention will be paid to the space allocation for Weekly Markets of Delhi in different areas.
5) To set up and operationalise with proper resources and manpower Street Vendor Grievance Redressal Committees in every municipal zone of Delhi.
Creating World Class Hawker Markets: The National Policy clearly states that while designating hawker zones to accommodate street vendors, the city planners must give due consideration to the principles of Natural Markets. Every city has its own geographic peculiarities within which Natural Markets emerge due to forces of demand, supply and citizens’ convenience. Their location is geared towards catering to the ease and daily requirements of the people of the City as consumers. For example, near hospitals one invariably finds a cluster of fruit vendors, vegetable vendors predominate in residential areas, flower vendors near temples, vendors of cooked snacks and meals near office complexes, etc.
In order to create well-managed and planned hawker zones befitting a world-class city, SVPA will undertake the following measures:
1) A group of senior architects and urban planners will be commissioned to make ward-by-ward plans for carving out hawker zones and redesigning pavements in such a way that vendors can be accommodated without inconveniencing pedestrians or obstructing the flow of vehicular traffic, including non motorized vehicles. The planners will strive to make these areas aesthetically pleasing, colourful, easy to maintain and people-friendly.
2) The planners will keep in view the diversity of goods and services that are sold in each market while creating Hawker Zones; for example, allocate more space for fruits and vegetables near residential areas, recognize the appropriateness of vendors of snacks, handicrafts and mementoes near tourist spots, etc.
3) There will be provision for Special Women’s Hawker Zones to encourage women vendors.
4) However, any delays or difficulties in designing and installing appropriate pavements shall not affect the process of issuing licenses to hawkers and vendors.
5) Special care will be given to ensuring that the plans are appropriate to the topography, space availability and flow of traffic and pedestrians in each ward, as well as taking into account the economic functions and the pattern of natural markets in that ward.
6) The hawker zones will include all the clusters of vendors identified in that ward, and wherever necessary and possible, leave space for the future growth of hawker clusters.
7) The hawker zones will have proper arrangements for garbage and waste disposal, sewage and rain water drainage, adequate greenery and have suitable infrastructure such as proper pavements, cleaning arrangements, and open beautified public spaces which can be used by vendors and other citizens for rest and relaxation.
The cost of each Photo Census and installation of CCTV cameras as well as the administration of the entire plan of authorized Hawker Zones, will be covered by the tehbazari the government collects from vendors. In fact, the tehbazari fee will provide additional regular income to the Municipal authorities.
Spatial Planning Norms – Demarcation of Vending Zones: The demarcation of hawking zones should be city/ zone specific. To make the plans conducive and adequate for the hawkers of each municipal zone of Delhi, the following should be adhered to:
- Take into account the natural propensity of the Street vendors to locate in certain places at certain times in response to patterns of demand for their goods/services.
- City authorities should provide sufficient spaces, designated as ‘vendors markets’ in layout plans at locations of such natural markets, for the number of vendors (static and mobile) which can cater to demand for their wares/services.
- If aspirants to such location exceed the number of spaces available, the excess may be regulated by fees or lottery and not discretionary licenses. In any case market forces relating to price, quality and demand will automatically curtail the number of vendors to sustainable levels.
- Mobile urban vending should be permitted in all areas even outside the designated vendors’ markets unless designated as ‘no-vending zone’ through a participatory process. The ‘no-vending zones’ may be notified both in terms of location and time. Locations should not be designated as ‘no-vending’ zones for frivolous reasons; the public benefits of the declaration of a no-vending zone should clearly outweigh the potential loss of livelihood and non-availability of goods and services that it would involve.
- There should be a provision for time-bound markets that allow for flexible use of space, depending on the time of day. For example, markets can be set up for after office hours in parking spaces; food vendors might be allowed during lunchtime near offices, and at a night bazaar in Connaught Place, Karol Bagh, and Chandni Chowk, etc.
- With the growth of City, every new area should have adequate provisions for Street vendors.
Designation of vendors markets / no-vending zones should not be left to the sole discretion of any civic or police authority but must be accomplished by a participatory process by an independent and duly empowered Street Vendors Protection Authority created specifically for this purpose.
Enforcement of Civic Discipline in Hawker Zones and Vendor Clusters
The SVPA will be fully empowered and take full responsibility for enforcing rigorous civic discipline among hawkers and vendors. This will include but not be limited to the following measures:
- Allocate a clearly demarcated stall space of 6 ft by 4ft (which may go up to a maximum of 8 ft by 8ft) to each vendor who has been issued a tehbazari for that particular market or space;
- Lay down and enforce a realistically defined and clearly visible Sanyam Rekha or Line of Self Discipline beyond which vendors will not be allowed to operate so that they do not obstruct pedestrian and vehicular traffic. SVPA will impose heavy penalties on those violating the Sanyam Rekha and other agreed-upon measures of civic discipline. SVPA will have the power to cancel the tehbazari of habitual violators and evict them from the stall;
- Enable vendors of each market to form an Anushaasan Samiti (Discipline Committee) which will take responsibility for maintaining the agreed-upon civic discipline in the area. Keep a check on the anti-social elements of the area and bring cases of harassment, extortion and other human rights abuses to the Grievance Redressal Committee.
- Assign a municipal inspector for each hawker zone to work with the local Anushaasan Samiti; SVPA will have the power to impose penalties on inspectors who fail to exercise their power to enforce civic discipline;
- Install CCTV cameras in all hawking zones to monitor the civic discipline effectively on daily basis and to have incontrovertible proof of discipline violation so that disciplinary action is not seen to be arbitrary. This will also enable close monitoring of the functioning of the police and municipal inspectors assigned to the job of enforcing civic discipline.
Rights of Vendors and Issuing of Identity Cards:
- The vendor authorized by the SVPA will be the legally authorized street vendor for the location he or she is allocated.
- All claims and conflicts will be resolved by the Grievance Redressal Committees set up for each Hawker Zone by the Task Force; the Committees will have adequate representation of local vendors.
- Each vendor identified in the Census will be provided an identity card; it will list on it close family members who are actively part of the vending operation.
- Each card will be valid for five years; at that time a fresh Census will be undertaken to verify if the vendors allotted spaces have continued personally as the principal vendors in the space allotted to them.
- Each vendor will sign a Shapath Patra requiring vendors to:
- Maintain cleanliness
- Stay within the sanyam rekha.
- Pay tehbazaari, municipal taxes and electricity dues on time.
- Promise not to sell or rent out the tehbazari or the assigned to others.
- Contribute towards the Safai Fund and maintain cleanliness in the market.
- Keep a check on the anti-social elements of the area and bring cases of harassment, extortion and other human rights abuses to the Grievance Redressal Committee of SVPA.
Those who violate the terms and conditions enshrined in the Shapath Patra will be subject to punitive fines and disciplinary action, including cancellation of the Bazar for repeated violations.
No government authority, only the SVPA or its authorized zonal committees will have the power to request removal of a vendor who they have authorized to operate a stall in a particular vendor zone, provided the person continues to follow the rules and regulations agreed upon in the Shapath Patra.
The Tehbazari Fee: The annual/ monthly tehbazari fee for each market will be fixed by SVPA keeping in view the business potential of the area and revised periodically. Higher tehbazari fee will be charged in high turnover congested markets like Karol Bagh and Lajpat Nagar, while newer colonies with less traffic and fewer customers on the outskirts will be charged lower fees.
Registration of New Vendors: The SVPA will make clear provisions for entrants into this occupation through the following modalities:
- Set up local Vendor Registration committees for registering new applicants for vending sites.
- Those applying will have to submit a written undertaking that they do not have any other means of livelihood nor occupy or own any other vending site.
- They will also have to undertake an oath that they will never sublet or rent out the vending site as and when allotted to them.
- The Registration committees will identify new hawker zones or vacancies in old hawker zones with the assistance of a computerized database.
- A public lottery will be held every month for allotment of new vending sites if there are more eligible applicants than locations.
Pilot Projects in Each Zone: While planning is going on, one vendor market will be identified in each zone to be developed as a model market so that residents’ associations see, through concrete examples, the advantages of cooperating in the setting up and monitoring of well planned vendor zones in their respective areas. This has the potential of uniting the rich, poor and middle classes in a common endeavour, and brings the educated elite and self-employed poor together on a common platform, to work for a common mission—that of helping to make our cities efficient in functioning, dignified and beautiful habitats for all its people.