For a planned city like Chandigarh, street vendors are a floating population difficult to include in the city’s planning mechanism. Street vendors tend to create an independent eco-system dominated by power centres within the government framework and outside from touts and racketeers, having to cope with the constant threat of confiscation of their goods. In the absence of a policy, usage of public space by street vendors remains a bone of contention between the different stakeholders in an urban setting. Objections are raised by motorists, resident welfare associations, market welfare committees and others who perceive them as a threat in terms of business competition, crime and usage of public resources.
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To address these issues, the Chandigarh Municipal Corporation (CMC) has now implemented a Street Vendor Plan, aimed at identifying individuals engaged in street vending, issuing them a vending certificate, and giving them a right to do business from a fixed spot by paying a monthly fee. With this plan, Chandigarh has become one of the few cities in India to regularise, resettle and regulate vendors operating within its geography. The scheme, being implemented under the Street Vendors (Protection of Livelihood and Regulation of Street Vending) Act, 2014, aims to “protect the rights of urban street vendors and regulate street vending activities and matters connected therewith or incidental thereto”.
As per details shared by the MC Vendor Cell, the city initiated the regularisation process in July 2015 with the notification of Union Territory of Chandigarh Street Vendors (Protection of Livelihood and Regulation of Street Vending) Rules 2015. This notification laid down the framework for a multi-stage process for regulating and resettling vendors operating in different areas.
The MC authorities next constituted a Town Vending Committee to execute and monitor the process. The committee has 40 per cent of its members elected by the vendors, 40 percent from related Government departments, and 20 percent from civil society and NGOs. A private party, the Haryana Nav Yuvak Kala Sangam, was tasked with carrying out a city-wide survey to identify such vendors. Interestingly, while the survey was carried out from July 18 to September 5, 2016, the notification of the Union Territory of Chandigarh Street Vendors (Protection of Livelihood and Regulation of Street Vending) Scheme was announced only on September 30, 2016.
Over the years, three notifications were issued outlining different aspects of the implementation of Street Vendor Act as per the specific requirements of Chandigarh. Among other things, this document laid down the specifications for conducting the survey. It also makes it mandatory for a vendor to have an Aadhaar card to be included in the scheme, and are required to register themselves and pay a stipulated monthly fee.
Certificate of Vending
Identifying the vendors
In October 2017, the survey conducted at multiple locations across the city, identified a total of 21,622 vendors plying their trade in the city. But when MC took up verification and registration of street vendors identified in the survey and having Chandigarh based Aadhaar cards, it found 4045 vendors to be bogus, while 9365 vendors were found eligible for issuance of a vendor certificate.
“The drop in numbers was largely on account of the fact that a number of individuals who were not directly engaged as vendors had got themselves identified during the survey,” explained Vivek Trivedi, MC Vendor Cell-in-charge and Social Development Officer. “For example, a vendor’s family may be having 10 people engaged in other activities, but all members got themselves registered as vendors.”
Vendors were categorized into those providing non-essential services, essential services and mobile vendors, in view of the nature of the city’s informal sector. Of the 9365 vendors who registered , 6625 were engaged in providing non-essential services like selling fruits and vegetables, fast food, paranthas, juices, cold drinks, and ice creams, 1834 vendors belonged to the essential services category (cycle repair, sellers of tea, milk/ bread, cobblers, washermen, and barbers) and 897 in the mobile vendor category, like rehris, thhelas and food trucks. These vendors were found to be eligible for allotment of vending sites.
In December 2017, the authorities declared Sectors 1 to 6 and Sector 17, the city’s commercial district which had a high density of vendors, as no-vending zones as per norms laid down by the Chandigarh Heritage Conservation Committee. In April 2018, the MC enabled collection of vendor fee through e-Sampark based fee collection portal. It has engaged the government-run Society for Promotion of IT in Chandigarh, to develop a secure CMS-based Street Vendors Portal, online MIS, SMART ID card and certificate of vending. Simultaneously, the MC took up development of 46 vending zones in different parts of the city, identified by Chief Architect UT. Till date it has identified 5460 vending sites, each measuring 6×5 sq ft.
Beginning December 28, 2018, in the four draws of lots conducted so far, the MC has allocated sites to 4284 vendors (all from the non-essential category) in different sectors. Except in a few cases, for example, where the vendors’ presence came in conflict with public safety or essential services, the essential and mobile vendors have not been disturbed. Among the 6625 non-essential category vendors eligible for allocation of sites, 2225 were rejected due to default in payment of monthly fee.
As per MC officials, preference has been given to vendors who hold a Chandigarh Aadhaar card and have been regular in paying their monthly fee. “We have tried to make the entire process transparent and we are bringing everything online,” said Vivek Trivedi. “While relocating a vendor, we have first tried to give a site in the same sector and if that is not possible, we have tried to relocate him or her to the nearest sector. For example, vendors from Sector 17 have mostly been relocated to Sector 22”.
|Category A (Those plying in the main markets): Sectors 7, 15, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 26, 34, 35, 45 – Burail Manimajra; (Monthly Fees — Service Provider: Rs 1500, Non-Service Provider: 2000, Mobile: Rs 1000)
Category B (Areas other than key/ main markets): Sectors 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 16, 24, 25, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32, 33, 36, 37, 38, 39, 40, 41, 42, 43, 44, 46, 47, 51, 52, 53, 54, 55, 56, 61,63 , IT Park & Ind. Area. (Monthly Fees –Service Provider: Rs 500, Non-Service Provider: Rs1000, Mobile: Rs 800)
Category C (Villages under MC/ rehabilitation colonies): Sec – 14, 48, 49, 50, Dhanas, Maloya, Mauli Jagran, Vikas Nagar, Hallo Majra, DadduMajra, Ramdarbar,Indra Colony, Palsora, KhudaLahora, Govindpura, Krishangarh & Bapudham (Monthly Fees — Service Provider: Rs 300, Non-Service Provider: Rs 800, Mobile: Rs 500)
Welcome revenue stream
It took the Municipal Corporation three years to reach this stage as it meandered along with its plan. However, a High Court order dated November 19, 2019 forced it to expedite the process. The court directed the corporation to remove all street vendors from No Vending Zones in Sector 1 to 6 and Sector 17 by December 5th. Earlier in October, the court had directed the MC to relocate registered vendors to the sites allotted to them by the MC, but only 23 per cent of the vendors had taken possession of the new sites. On December 6th, the MC along with Chandigarh police carried out the city’s biggest eviction drive to clear illegal vendors from Sectors 1 to 6 and Sector 17, as also to streamline the presence of vendors in other sectors. While vendors not registered with the MC were told to shut shop, the registered ones were told to move to the sites allotted to them.
Chandigarh ranks first among Union Territories and third among the states in the Progress Report on Implementing the Street Vendors Act 2014 prepared by the Centre for Civil Society. The report ranks state and UTs on the basis of their compliance with a 11-step index created to measure implementation of the Act. The Chandigarh MC has generated revenues of Rs 21 crore from vendor fee since October 2017 through implementation of the Act, money that probably was paid as graft prior to the regulation drive. MC officials say that the new revenue stream has been the biggest positive from this exercise for the cash strapped organization.
But how are street vendors themselves reacting to the new scheme? Are they satisfied? Find out here.