Total Nuisance! Street Vendors Taking Way Too Much Advantage of Provisions Given To Them

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Total Nuisance! Street Vendors Taking Way Too Much Advantage of Provisions Given To Them

Mangaluru: The Street Vendors have taken full advantage of all the provisions provided to them by the present government. I am not against these vendors doing business on the streets for their daily income, what I am against is the way they run their business-by not following the guidelines issued to them. Just look at all the new footpaths constructed in the City- about 90% of them have been encroached by the street vendors. Is this what you call Smart City Development? Even the prominent parking spaces have been occupied by the street vendors, and the MCC officials nor the Cops have done anything to it.

More and more street vendors keep mushrooming in the City, and it has been a nuisance, and no action has been taken whatsoever. Since people like to patronize these street vendors due to cheap prices when compared to prices of essentials, fruits, vegetables, fish, etc. at shops, it has become yet another marketplace by the street side, putting the motorists and pedestrians in inconveniences and hardships. After the Central Market was demolished, many of the vendors have started their business by the roadside. Looking around the city, the menace of illegal street vendors is getting out of control- there are street vendors selling fruits/vegetables/Chinese food, chaat items, dosas/coffee/tea, etc. The rapid growth of the population recently has given rise to problems and difficulties that have been alarming and threatening the sustenance of human civilization.

More people mean more mouths to feed. In search of a livelihood, a large-scale migration of the rural population to the urban areas has become a common sight. Cities and towns with increased opportunities for employment coupled with industries and commerce have become increasingly congested and overpopulated. In developing economies like ours, the state finds it difficult to control as well as regulate such movement. With limited infrastructure facilities, not all the citizens are able to avail the basic necessities of a living. The population being disproportionately high when compared to the limited employment opportunities, most of them have to carry on independent business activities and do not get any help from the state authorities in this regard. With a largely poor population, the issue appears to be two-sided.

On the one hand, is the livelihood of these people and their families, and on the other hand is the regulation of economic activities, control on crimes and illegal business, encroachment of land and property, illegal street shops, and last but not the least the protection and conservation of the natural environment. In such a situation it becomes necessary and vital for the local municipal authorities to frame laws and thrust them to manage the behaviour of the society. One such concern is that of street hawking in large cities. These activities disrupt the smooth functioning of the city in several ways but are difficult to regulate as they involve a large section of the society. Moreover, this population is a vote bank for political groups and a good source for harassment by the public authorities. MCC and other concerned authorities have to come up with a plan to relocate all these illegal vendors to a location that will not bother the city life, traffic, and the earnings of those shop owners who run their business legally by paying taxes, rent, and other utility expenses.

Now that MSCL and MCC are experimenting with One-way Circular traffic movement from Clock Tower- A B Shetty Circle- Hamilton Circle- Rao & Rao Circle, Traffic police personnel, led by Assistant Commissioner of Police M.A. Nataraj, went around the stretch between Hamilton Circle and Rao and Rao Circle and asked street vendors not to occupy the main road and the pavement. The visit of the traffic police was owing to the congestion in this road stretch following the trial run of one-way circular traffic movement from the Clock Tower Circle-A.B.Shetty Circle-Hamilton Circle-Rao and Rao Circle stretch from July 1.

ACP (Traffic) M A Nataraj interacting with Street Vendors and directing about the rules

Nataraj asked vegetable and fruit vendors not to sell their produce on the road and on the pavement and hinder traffic movement. “There are clear directions of the Supreme Court barring the sale of the products on the road and pavement. If you are found on the road and pavements, we will have no other option than seizing it,” he said. Nataraj had asked the vendors to operate on the fish market premises or move elsewhere. “You will not be allowed to occupy the street and the pavement,” he said. He had also asked his personnel to mark the space that vendors cannot operate on the stretch of the road between Hamilton Circle and Rao and Rao Circle.

While asking autorickshaw drivers not to stop their vehicles on this stretch, he asked them to operate from the auto-rickshaw stand adjoining the service bus stand, Nataraj said some space would be provided near the petrol station at the Rao and Rao Circle for the parking of two auto-rickshaws. On the demand for a parking facility made by a few traders in the fish market, Nataraj said it will be considered after the removal of the median on the Hamilton Circle-Rao and Rao Circle stretch. He had also reviewed arrangements at the service bus stand where separate exit points are being made for the city and outstation buses. His interaction with the street vendors was a couple of days back, but if you look near the state Bank area, it is business as usual with street vendors still occupying the footpaths, parking spaces and portions of the streets. Oh well!

This article explores the ordinary practices, the social, political, and spatial “tactics” and “strategies” employed by street vendors to access and capture public space, at the time of the introduction of the Street Vendors Act. Years after the enactment of the Street Vendors Act 2014, India’s street vendors including Mangaluru, continue to be labeled as encroachers and face evictions. Everyone depends on hawkers for affordable goods and services. Meanwhile, street vendors who are expressly recognized and protected by the new law continue to be stigmatized as “encroachers” and face the usual official and unofficial consequences including extortion, harassment, and evictions. The State apparatus has not fully implemented the law in most states. Moreover, by evicting the vendors and creating no vending zones before enumeration, state authorities, as well as local administrations, have been in clear conflict with the law.

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