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Kochi's street vendors: An uncertain existence

Hundreds of street vendors in Kochi fear eviction as the Corporation delays issuance of permit cards.

Published: 15th October 2018 11:03 PM  |   Last Updated: 16th October 2018 08:25 AM   |  A+A-

street vendor

Street vendors at Broadway  Melton Antony

By Express News Service

KOCHI: Shibu Mulavukad has been a street vendor at High Court Junction for the past 17 years. He eked out living selling fruits in the busy location, but a major jolt awaits him soon. “We were asked by the Traffic Police to relocate once the construction of the jetty for the Water Metro project begins here. We have no place to go,” he said.

Abdul Razack’s case is no different. He runs a juice stall in front of the Ernakulam Jetty. “If anyone wants us out of here, they will have to find us another place to carry on our businesses. All we want is to go on with our life without facing a threat to our livelihood. I have been here for 33 years. I put up this stall in my youth. Where will I go now?”

With the delay in approving the survey report for the issuance of identity cards under the National Urban Livelihood Mission (NULM), street vendors like Shibu and Abdul Razack are living in the fear of eviction.
After the Street Vending (Protection of Livelihood and Regulation of Street Vendors) Act came into being in 2014, it was decided to identify existing street vendors and ensure identity cards for them under the NULM’s rehabilitation project.

“We had given our details to the Corporation when the survey was carried out. But that was long ago and nothing has happened yet. We still don’t have identity cards,” said Prince, another street vendor who has been running a stall at High Court Junction for eight years.

According to the Corporation records, of the 4,000-odd bunk shops in the city, only 123 wayside eateries and 59 kiosks have permission to operate. The survey conducted by NULM showed that 2,500 bunk shops are eligible to operate in the city.

However, the Corporation has not yet approved the survey list. “Some details in the list was conflicting. The whereabouts of those in the list were contradictory to their current location. While some shops were registered under the same name, some registered shops did not even exist in the prescribed location,” said Minimol V K, Standing Committee Chairperson for Health.

However, according to Minimol, a ministerial meeting on Friday had directed the Corporation to approve the survey list as soon as possible.For the street vendors, this is their primary source of income. Even though a possible eviction is looming over their heads, it is the uncertainty that is killing. “We don’t know what is going to happen. We are in the dark. Something has to be done soon,” said Shibu.

Corporation figures

According to the Corporation records, of the 4,000-odd bunk shops in the city, only 123 wayside eateries and 59 kiosks have permission to operate. The survey conducted by NULM showed that 2,500 bunk shops are eligible to operate in the city.

More from Kochi.

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