THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Arecent survey by the city corporation revealed that currently, there are around 2,500 street vendors in Thiruvananthapuram. Of them, 1,800 are new. To keep a check on them and protect public spaces from encroachments, the city corporation is planning to demarcate special street vending zones. But stakeholders and members of the committee of vendors are unhappy with the survey and alleged that it was not done scientifically.
To finalise the vending zones, the civic body has constituted a special inspection team comprising officials from police, revenue, public works departments and town planning committee. They will check the feasibility of the locations. A senior official of the corporation told TNIE that the team will visit all 25 street vending zones identified so far. While its last council was in power, the civic body had decided to set up 10 street vending zones, but curbed the plan due to the pandemic.
“In 2017-18, a comprehensive survey by the corporation had identified around 4,000 street vendors in the capital. This new survey was done during the lockdown without any discussions or intimations. We cannot accept this, and we want the corporation to include the old list while issuing ID cards. It is unfair that new vendors would get ID cards while those who have been in business for years won’t be getting one,” said Micheal Bastin, general secretary, AITUC Street Vendors Union, Thiruvan-anthapuram.
The Centre is providing street vendors a loan of Rs 20,000 to restart their businesses. So far, 925 people have availed of the loans and around 600 applications are under consideration. Sonia George, general secretary of Self-Employed Women’s Association (SEWA), said the town vendors committee hasn’t met in a long time despite multiple requests. “Ever since the new council took charge at the corporation, we placed multiple requests to convene a vendors’ committee meeting to disuss the problems faced by streets vendors amid the pandemic,” said Sonia, who is also a member of Town Vending Committee.
She said as per the Street Vendors (Protection of Livelihood and Regulation of Street Vending) Act, 2014, the committee should meet and discuss the affairs concerning street vending at least once in three months. “The current survey has ignored hundreds of traditional vendors. This is being done without any consultation with the committee, which is a violation of the Act,” said Sonia. She added that many vendors are on the verge of falling into poverty. “Traditional vendors should be prioritised and their livelihood should be protected. There is no transparency in the process. Several surveys and decisions were taken in the past for the welfare of street vendors, but none of them were implemented,” she added.
More vendors enter the scene
According to officials, the vending zones will be placed in such a way that it doesn’t inconvenience pedestrian movement and traffic. The survey was conducted by a 40-member team that covered all 100 wards under the corporation.
They found that the number of street vendors has increased exponentially since the pandemic started. The survey also revealed that few of the vendors have multiple set-ups, but according to the current rules, one vendor cannot have more than one licence.
“Our survey found that the number of traditional street vendors has come down, while new ones have sprung up. Vegetable and fish vendors are more in number. It is an unorganised sector and as of now, people are setting up shops wherever they feel convenient. Once the vending zones are marked, we will shift everyone to designated locations,” said the official.