Mangalore; Street vendors continue to be at mercy of MCC

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They are haunted by frequent eviction. City still doesn’t have a vending zone

Mangalore: Even two years after the Supreme Court sought statutory protection for street vendors, they continue to face the threat of eviction by Mangalore City Corporation (MCC), besides dealing with seasonal problems.

In recognising the importance of the economy of street vendors and hawkers, who sustain their livelihood on their own instead of looking for government support, the Supreme Court in 2011 directed the Union Ministry of Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation to “protect street vendors from harassment by police and civic authorities and (ensure) demarcation of vending zone.”

The Centre did introduce the Street Vendors (Protection of Livelihood and Regulation of Street Vending) Bill 2012 but it is still pending with a Standing Committee of Parliament.

That the street vendors in Mangalore are frequently evicted from areas of their business is known, what with the MCC even acquiring a vehicle called ‘tiger’ to carry out operations against them. It is heartening that some attempt is being made to recognise them as a part of the economy if a few rounds of discussions held with their representatives are any indication. The attempts remain half-hearted.

Sunil Kumar Bajal of Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU), which has taken up their cause, said there were more than 2,000 street vendors whose families depended on their meagre income. Most of them were continuing their trade near Central Market, on footpaths adjacent to Lady Goschen Hospital and near State Bank Bus Stand. The CITU had been demanding an alternative place marked as vending zone facilitating their trade on a permanent basis.

No vending zone

The street vendors here still do not have an earmarked vending zone. Mr. Bajal and street vendors claim that the area adjacent to Lady Goschen Hospital had been earmarked for them. “But it is being used as a parking area,” Mr. Bajal said. MCC sources deny that the area was ever declared a vending zone.

Mukhtar Ahmed, a street vendor, said cars and motorcycles were parked in the place and he was left with little or no place. A street vendor selling chappals and Chinese goods near Central Market said, “We may get evicted anytime.”

Near the State Bank bus stand, space available for vendors was reduced because of two barricades erected along the footpath. The barricades have denied access to the footpath to both vendors and pedestrians.

And every time it rains, the vendors have to pack up their goods and run for shelter and they could only resume long after the rain stopped, Mr. Kumar said. Some of the places where they do their business get all muddy after rains.

MCC looks the other way preferring to wait for the enactment of the law. “Whatever decision we take, it should be supported by an Act,” said the outgoing MCC Commissioner Harish Kumar.

~ Hindu

He is a Software Engineer from Moodbidri currently living in Kuwait. He likes to travel and post interesting things about technology. He is the designer of Kannadigaworld.com. You may follow him on FB at fb.com/alanpaladka

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