CHENNAI: The sudden crackdown by the police on street vendors in T Nagar has left over 5,000 roadside sellers without any income for the past 36 days, according to Tamil Nadu Street Vending Workers Association. With street vending being an integral part of the T Nagar shopping experience, the crackdown has come as a surprise to many.
“There are over 600 to 700 roadside shops on Usman Road, on any given day, and most of the vendors are young sole breadwinners of their families. Such a sudden crackdown without any rehabilitation will surely push many of them to anti-social activities,” said V Mageswaran, general secretary, TN Street Vending Workers Association on Friday.
According to Mageswaran, a Supreme Court Order dated September 9, 2013, states that any action on street vendors should be taken only by a committee that has been set up with 40 per cent representation from street vendors along with municipal authorities and police.
“A new legislation is due, warranting relocation to street vendors who are being removed. To avoid relocation, the authorities are cutting down on the number of vendors before the legislation comes into effect, since most affected vendors are already leaving the city in search of other opportunities,” he added.
On any given day, the vendors invest anywhere between `5,000 and `25,000, relying on spot finance. The police are not only levying a fine, but also seizing their merchandise. Apart from affecting their livelihood, the action makes vendors run into heavy debts, he said.
The crackdown by police on street vendors has been a continuous process, but has never lasted this long, according to the street vendors.
“Usually, they only levy the fine and let us get back to business on a time-sharing basis. However, such a long-term crackdown without any notice has put vendors in a tight spot,” said Mageswaran.
He added that if the crackdown continued, the only way left would be protests and demonstrations.