The non-implementation of grievance redressal envisaged under street vendor act.
About the Issue-
Despite a decade since the inception of the Street Vendors (Protection of Livelihood and Regulation of Street Vending) Act, 2014, a crucial provision—the establishment of Grievance Redressal Committees (GRCs) in all urban local bodies—remains largely unimplemented. This raises concerns about the effectiveness of safeguarding street vendors' rights and addressing grievances.
The Act mandates state governments to form GRCs, consisting of a retired civil judge or judicial magistrate as the chairperson and two professionals. These committees serve as a recourse for street vendors facing issues like harassment by police and local authorities.
Who are the street vendors?
- Street Vendor is a person who offers goods for sale to the publicat large without having a permanent built-up structure from which to sell.
- Street vendors may be stationaryin the sense that they occupy space on the pavements or other public/priv.ate spaces or, they may be mobile in the sense that move from place to place by carrying their wares on push carts or in baskets on their heads.
Emergence of Street Vendors:
- Primarily, the surge in street vendors can be attributed to the dearth of employment opportunities and prevalent poverty in rural areas, prompting individuals to migrate to urban centers for better prospects.
- Many of these migrants lack the necessary skills and education for formal employment, compelling them to engage in the informal sector.
- Additionally, individuals who formerly held jobs in the formal sector find themselves joining the informal sector due to industry closures, downsizing, or mergers, as they struggle to secure livelihoods.
Challenges Encountered by Street Vendors
- The urban planning in our cities, influenced by Western marketing concepts, often neglects to designate spaces for vendors and hawkers, disregarding indigenous practices.
Navigating Multiple Authorities:
- Street vendors contend with various authorities such as municipal corporations, police (both regular and traffic divisions), regional development bodies, district administrations, and local panchayats. This multiplicity leads to exploitation and extortion.
- Positive initiatives by one authority are sometimes nullified by conflicting actions from others.
- Regular eviction drives conducted by district or municipal administrations create an atmosphere of fear among vendors. The eviction teams, known by different local names, are viewed with apprehension.
- The informal sector faces the burden of 'rangdari tax' and 'hafta' in various cities. Vendors often have to part with significant amounts of money to continue their trade.
- While GRCs have been established in only 17 states, their presence is not universal within those states, creating gaps in the grievance redressal mechanism.
During a national seminar, Hardeep Singh Puri, Minister of Housing and Urban Affairs, emphasized the need for wider GRC implementation, citing their potential to foster inclusivity and support.
Importance of GRCs
GRCs play a pivotal role in providing street vendors with a formal channel to address grievances, ensuring protection from harassment, and fostering a supportive environment for their livelihoods.The Act envisions GRCs as a key element in the regulatory framework for street vending.
The Way Forward:
To bolster the livelihoods of street vendors, it is imperative to streamline the implementation of GRCs across all states.
The Act envisions vibrant town vending zones, demarcated vending zones, and issued certificates of vending as mechanisms to formalize and protect street vending activities.
As India seeks to enhance the lives of street vendors, the effective implementation of GRCs becomes paramount.
By addressing existing challenges and providing comprehensive guidelines, the government can ensure that the Street Vendors Protection Act fulfills its intended purpose of safeguarding the livelihoods of this important section of society.
The Street Vendors (Protection of Livelihood and Regulation of Street Vending) Act, 2014
- Is a legislative framework aimed at safeguarding the rights and regulating the activities of street vendors in India
- Enacted to address the socio-economic concerns of this informal sector, the key provisions of the Act include:
Grievance Redressal Committees (GRCs):
- Mandates the formation of GRCs in urban local bodies to address grievances faced by street vendors.
- Comprises a chairperson, typically a retired civil judge or judicial magistrate, and two other professionals.
Grievance Redressal Mechanism:
- Provides street vendors with a formal mechanism to report and seek redressal for issues, including harassment by police and local authorities.
Regulation of Street Vending:
- Aims to strike a balance between the rights of street vendors and the regulation of their activities in public spaces.
Empowerment of Urban Local Bodies:
- Empowers urban local bodies to demarcate vending zones, issue certificates of vending, and regulate street vending activities.
Envisions GRCs as instruments to foster a more inclusive and supportive environment for street vendors.