Implementing the Street Vendors Act

The Street Vendors Act, which was celebrated as progressive legislation, is now facing significant operational issues. 

The Street Vendors (Protection of Livelihood and Regulation of Street Vending) Act, 2014 

  • It is an Act passed by India’s Parliament to regulate and safeguard the rights of street sellers in public places.
  • The Act seeks to preserve the rights of urban street sellers while also regulating their activity. It clearly defines the duties and responsibilities of both suppliers and various levels of government.
  • According to the Ministry of Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation, India has around 10 million street vendors, including major cities such as Mumbai, Delhi, Kolkata, and Ahmedabad. 

Significance of street vendors

  • Street vendors account for around 2.5% of a city’s population and play a variety of roles in city life, including providing necessary services, a small income for migrants and the urban poor, and inexpensive items for others.
  • Street vendors are vital for preserving affordability and accessibility to food, nutrition, and commodities distribution, as well as being part of the cultural fabric of cities such as Mumbai and Chennai. 

Challenges with Act Implementation

  • Administrative challenges include an increase in harassment and evictions of street sellers, despite the Act’s emphasis on protection and regulation.Outdated bureaucratic attitude regards suppliers as unlawful entities.
  • Lack of information and education of the Act among state officials, the general public, and vendors.
  • Street vendor representatives have limited power in Town Vending Committees (TVCs), which are frequently controlled by local municipal officials.Tokenistic depiction of female sellers in television commercials. 
  • Governing Issues: Inadequate current urban governing institutions.
  • The Act is not fully integrated with the framework provided by the 74th Constitutional Amendment Act for urban governance.
  • ULBs have insufficient power and capacity.
  • Top-down programmes such as the Smart Cities Mission prioritise infrastructure development while disregarding measures for including street sellers into municipal design.
  • Societal Challenges: The dominant image of the ‘world-class metropolis’ is sometimes restrictive.Street sellers are marginalised and stigmatised as barriers to urban development rather than genuine contributions to the urban economy.
  • These issues are reflected in city design, urban planning, and public views of neighbourhoods. 

Way forward.

  • Decentralisation of Interventions: It is necessary to decentralise interventions and strengthen the capacity of Urban Local Bodies (ULBs) to plan for street vending in cities.
  • Shift from department-led actions to deliberative processes: It is critical to shift away from high-handed departmental operations and towards true deliberate procedures at the Town Vending Committee (TVC) level. 
  • Urban plans, city planning rules, and ordinances must be updated to incorporate allowances for street vending.
  • Need-Based Welfare Provisions: The Act’s broad welfare provisions should be creatively used to meet the rising requirements of street vendors, such as mitigating the impact of climate change, e-commerce rivalry, and lower salaries.
  • Adaptation to the National Urban Livelihood Mission: The National Urban Livelihood Mission’s street vendor sub-component should recognise changing circumstances and encourage new solutions to meet demands. 

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