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  Home >> Hawkers >> Responses to the proposed National Urban Street Vendors Policy:

Responses to the proposed National Urban Street Vendors Policy: 



Nat. Policy on Street Vendors 2004

Response / Suggestion 1

Response / Suggestion 2

Query / Remark


The right to carry on trade or business mentioned in Article 19(1)g of the Constitution, on street pavements, if properly regulated cannot be denied on the ground that the streets are meant exclusively for passing or re-passing and no other use.

This indicates that there is some conflict in allowing street vendors, and “regulation” is the key. This means that the onus for smooth functioning is on the Civic Authority.

Another quote that says that “streets are not meant exclusively for passing or re-passing and no other use…” is also questionable.

The policy says that street vendors constitute 2% of the population of a metropolis – even if this is true, the city cannot support 2% of its population who exist outside the framework of the law – and use public streets and pavements for their trade – restriction and regulation is essential

If the Policy is based on such concepts, it is questionable, and faulty, and there is a limited chance of success, as most civic authorities across the country are already over-burdened and unable to even regulate themselves, leave alone taking on additional regulatory roles.


this important section of the urban population finds recognition for its contribution to society, and is conceived of as a major initiative for urban poverty alleviation.  

The Policy says that ensuring employment of the street vendors is mandatory for the State, as this is a major initiative for poverty alleviation. While this statement is not untrue, it is an isolated and over-simplified view of the situation.

a serious misinterpretation to extend it to hawking.

Another slum situation in the making



Definition A street vendor is broadly defined as a person who offers goods or services for sale to the public without having a permanent built up structure but with a temporary static structure or mobile stall (or headload). Street vendors may be stationary by occupying space on the pavements or other public/private areas, or may be mobile in the sense that they move from place to place carrying their wares on push carts or in cycles or baskets on their heads, or may sell their wares in moving bus  etc. In this policy document, the term urban vendor is inclusive of both traders and service providers, stationary as well as mobile vendors and incorporates all other local/region specific terms used to describe them, such as, hawker, pheriwalla, rehri-patri walla, footpath dukandars, sidewalk traders,  etc.

The definition of street vendors is too broad while attempting to be inclusive, but this is not helpful, as the various different kinds of street vendors (for e.g.: mobile and temporary, static) would require different regulations.






The demarcation of hawking zones should be city/town specific. If aspirants to such location exceed the number of spaces available, excess may be regulated by fees or lottery and not discretionary licenses. The ‘no-vending zones’ may be notified both in terms of location and time.

It is recommended that legitimate hawking zones are to be provided, within which regulation of numbers of vendors is required, as the numbers cannot be unlimited. This indicates that those not included within the limited and legitimate numbers and space, will be excluded and continue to operate outside this framework. This will require:

a) The hawking zones and numbers to be continually modified and increased. (similar to slums and cut-off date)

b) Regulation / Control of both the legitimate and excluded street vendors by the civic authorities – a further additional burden.

Based on this logic, even whatever hawking zones are identified can be

challenged via a PIL in due course.


although 'nominal fees' can never regulate 'excess' and so it will become a 'lottery' based system which is never sustainable due to the hardship it causes to the existing beneficiaries and also because of unionisation, etc.



Clearly defined criteria needed for hawking zones and non-hawking – these are then applied and accepted – irrespective of who applies them




It should take into account the natural propensity of the Street vendors to locate in certain places at certain times in response to patterns of demand for their goods/services.

This is looking at the situation in isolation: the same places at the same particular times have increased vehicular traffic and high human pedestrian traffic, and if the hawkers are also permitted in such areas, the existing systems will be overloaded and collapse.





Mobile urban vending should be permitted in all areas even outside the designated vendors’ markets, unless designated as ‘no-vending zone’ through a participatory process.

A cap is required on the mobile vendors based on the carrying capacity of the area.





Designation of vendors markets / no-vending zones should not be left to the sole discretion of any civic or police authority but must be accomplished by a participatory process by a Town Vending Committee ( which for large towns / cities may be constituted on the basis of wards ) whose membership may be as follows:
- Municipal Authority -  Traffic and Local   
- Public Land Owning
-Associations (Market,
  Traders, Resident
  Welfare, slum &
  chawl etc.)
- Representative from
   associations  of
   Street vendors (
   static & mobile)
- Representative  from
   lead Nationalized
   Bank / Commercial

Town Vending Committee can be used to implement and regulate the schemes as set out by the SC / MCGM





make the plans conducive and adequate for hawkers


shouldn't it be for the citizens as pedestrians and, maybe, as consumers?




space should be designated for vendors' markets ... to 2.5% of the total city population." "(See Annexure -I for indicative norms

provided in Delhi Master Plan) "

Other recommendation of 1 hawker per 1000 population is more feasible – hence 60 hawkers per 60,000 population of a Councillor Ward

that is an extremely high percentage. The Delhi Master Plan is quite scary. e.g. 4 hawkers per 10 shops.




The Committee should ensure that provisions for space for vendors’ markets are pragmatic, consistent with formation of natural markets, sufficient for existing demand for vendor’s goods and services, as well as likely increase in line with anticipated population growth.  Provisions of space may include temporary designation as vendors’ markets (e.g. as weekly markets) whose use at other times may be different (e.g. Public Park, parking lot).  Timing restriction on urban vending should correspond to the needs of ensuring non-congestion of public spaces / public hygiene.






Provision for electricity

great potential for misuse on streets and pavements, could even cause accidents – maybe provided in the vending markets




no licensing, but regulation through registration – and the registration process is then further detailed

The Registration process that is detailed is however extremely simplistic and hardly allows for an efficient system of regulation:

a) no restriction on numbers – unrealistic and unmanageable

b) market forces will regulate the numbers – too unpredictable a force to depend on, besides being too powerful to regulate – look at the examples of the real estate prices in Mumbai, etc. – it is difficult to control market forces despite regulation.




Relocation and Rehabilitation

can be done once, not repeatedly, for every new batch of hawkers that come – hence an unsustainable exercise.




Evictions: to be stopped

these are undertaken because the law is being broken.





recommends repealing of IPC sections 283 and section 34

this is again an isolated view, as these sections in the IPC and Police Act are required as they cover a broad issue of safety – and hence cannot be repealed only in the interests of street vendors – as it is in the interests of public at large.




important to organise the street vendors for creation of a united front for

negotiation / protection of their rights


something similar needed for resident citizens also.









Overall comments

a) This is not a balanced policy

b) The Policy presents simplistic solutions for a complex issue

c) The recommendations made do not consider the long term impacts and repercussions on related issues.


And the ultimate irony is that all that happens is that some people become eligible to hawk, while for others, Articles 39 (a) and (b) are denied. And so the circle becomes complete, and life remains as messy as ever for

citizens and cities.


Solutions, by definition, are those which lead to a stable end-point.

Policies such as these start with a certain set of assumptions and logic and

philosophies and then to force a certain stable end-point very conveniently

disregard / forget those tenets.

1. The policy has been framed by the Ministry of Urban Development and

Poverty Alleviation.

By definition, this would be a body already inclined towards hawkers.


It is one of the beautiful compensations of this life that no one can sincerely try to help another without helping himself. --Charles Dudley Warner