Kochi corporation's street vending plan lands Kerala govt nod, but challenges abound

Practical difficulties loom in accommodating thousands of vendors within limited spaces
The street vending committee identified 2,348 vendors across corporation limits and issued licences to them.
The street vending committee identified 2,348 vendors across corporation limits and issued licences to them. Photo | Express

KOCHI: The state government has approved Kochi corporation’s street vending plan, but questions abound about the practical difficulties in accommodating thousands of street vendors within limited spaces. According to a Kerala High Court directive, only vendors with a vending certificate and ID card are permitted to conduct business.

The street vending committee identified 2,348 vendors across corporation limits and issued licences to them. These vendors will operate in 67 designated vending zones. “Accommodating them in a limited space is a challenge. As per the street vending plan, zones can be allowed on the sides of roads that are at least 24m wide. According to the vending zone map, it is difficult to accommodate all of them,” said A R Padmadas, opposition councillor and member of the vending committee.

A total of 4,427 applications were received. The Centre for Socio-Economic and Environmental Studies (CSES), a non-profit NGO, and a joint team comprising vending committee members, nine selected vendors, Kudumbashree members, and health inspectors identified genuine applicants through a survey.

“All activities related to the street vending plan will be implemented under the Street Vending Act 2014, and the supervision of the High Court,” said Kochi mayor M Anilkumar. “The corporation had published the list of street vendors approved by the governing body on various notice boards and in newspapers,” the mayor added.

The Street Vendors (Protection of Livelihood and Regulation of Street Vending) Act of 2014 protects the rights of street vendors in India. According to the Act, the town vending committee (TVC), which works under the local municipality, has the authority to earmark space for vending zones and designate them as restriction-free vending zones (where street vendors can vend for 24 hours), restricted vending zones (specific periods when vending is permitted), and no-vending zones. Vendors and hawkers will be surveyed every five years, receive identification cards, and be assigned to a TVC-approved vending zone.

“With the cooperation of various government and non-government agencies, streets and locations within the city limits were identified for street vending zones under the Street Vending Act (2014),” said the mayor.

He added that the “Kochi Municipal Corporation Street Vendor By-law 2022” was gazetted and made legally effective on January 9, 2023. As per the approved by-law, the minimum space allotted for a vendor is 10 sqft, and the maximum is 25 sqft. To oversee the implementation of street vending activities based on the by-law, vigilance committees will be formed in all 74 divisions.

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