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Mumbai has three lakh hawkers

Hawkers Inc to get their rights - No harassment; Loans, registration and social facilities will now be given

New Delhi: Medical benefits, insurance cover and loans - your bhajiwali is no more going to be the same old insecure woman anymore. Hawkers and street vendors are soon going to get social security and health cover just on the lines of workers in the organised sector.

In a meeting following a national workshop on urban street vendors, held in New Delhi on Wednesday, the union Urban Employment and Poverty Alleviation (UEPA) ministry has decided to issue directives to the state governments in this regard.

India has about one crore hawkers and street vendors out of which almost three lakh are in Mumbai and 2.75 lakh in West Bengal.

The state governments and land developing agencies will now also have to mandatorarily earmark land space in their Master Plan or Zonal Plans for street vendors and hawkers. "So far there is no provision for social inclusion of street vendors and hawkers at the town planning level. At present, there are no legal bindings on the states in this regard. But we are issuing instructions making it mandatory to keep space for these people," said a senior official of the UEPA.

The central government will also ask states to sensitise its police and municipal authorities towards hawkers and vendors. In a move to streamline the system, hawkers and vendors will be registered and the state governments will also have to help them in getting loans since hawkers often live in slums and have no proper address or identity which is essential for loans. As a result they generally borrow money from private lenders at very high rates of interest. While the interest of street vendors will also be covered under the National Urban Renewal Mission, which will take care of basic services etc to them, states will also need to pass a Hawkers Act which would prevent harassment of the hawkers by the police and municipal authorities.

The central government is also going to get tough with states not implementing the policy. The policy was framed to regulate the business of the street vendors and hawkers in the country but despite a year after its announcement nothing has happened in this regard. 

Publication : DNA; Date : Oct 20, 2005; Page : 11


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