Archive for 2010

Mass Demonstration at Jaipur Municipal Corporation

Jeevika: Law, Liberty & Livelihood campaign facilitated a mass demonstration along with Heritage City Thadi-Thela Union in Jaipur on December 22, 2010. Hundreds of street vendors mainly from Sodala, Collectorate Circle and Viashali Nagar area of Jaipur gathered at the Jaipur Municipal Corporation headquarter and sat down on Dharna under the leadership of Udai Singh Rathore (former MLA-Jaipur), Nathu Singh Rathore (President, Street Vendors Joint Front), Banwari Lal Sharma (Heritage City Thadi- Thela Union) demanding early implementation of street vendors policy in the city.

Addressing the street vendors Mr. Amit Chandra said, “The Government of India drafted a policy for street vendors in 2004 and sent to the Rajasthan government for implementation in the state. The Rajasthan Government also drafted a policy named ‘Pheriwalo Ka Sansar’ in 2007 which is implemented in the state till date. It has been three years but the Jaipur Municipal Corporation has not implemented the policy as yet. We need to put pressure on the Jaipur Municipal Corporation with constant such mass demonstrations to bring the Corporation in the functioning mode.”

Mr. Uday Singh Rathore said, “The municipal officers have vested interest in not implementing the provisions of the policy in Jaipur. Lack of legal recognition of the street vendors makes them vulnerable to the development authorities which consequences into the huge extortion by the authorities from the poor”

Mr Nathu Singh Rathore said, “Street vendors are open for all sorts of harassment from authorities. They are being evicted everyday by the authorities for no reason and the poor vendors who were making their livelihood on the street and taking care of their family are on the verge of starvation.”

Mr. Banwari Lal Sharma said, “The officers of Municipal Corporation have never been sensitive towards the issue of street vendors. They are never seen as service providers and constantly harassed. The Jaipur Development Authority built kiosks which were allotted to the people with political and bureaucratic connections and not to the genuine street vendors. The municipal corporation had started survey of the street vendors and that too was stopped in the initial phase itself”

Vidyadhar Bhimsaraiya, Basant Haryana and many other representatives of several other street vendors union also participated in the mass demonstrated. At the end of the demonstration a group of representatives met the Chief Executive Officer and the Additional Commissioner (Head Quarter) to discuss the issues of street vendors and handed over a memorandum.

Here are some pictures of the demonstration:

Jeevika: Law, Liberty and Livelihood campaign is a semi-finalist

in the “Property Rights: Identity, Dignity & Opportunity for All” Competition

CCS’s Law, Liberty and Livelihood campaign has made to 19 semi finalists out of 211 entries. From now until Jan 12, 2011, we need your support and votes for our entry to emerge as a finalist. The most voted 8-10 semi-finalists will be declared as the finalists and will then be evaluated by a distinguished panel of judges. The judges’ evaluation will decide the top three winners of the Property Rights competition, which will be announced on February 23, 2011. Click here or the image below to vote for us.

Jeevika: Law, Liberty and Livelihood Campaign - Semi Finalist

Is bamboo a tree or a grass?

The definition is contested as the answer has immense economic implications. If bamboo is a tree or timber, it belongs to the forest department and can be auctioned to the paper and pulp industry, often at throwaway rates. If it is a grass, then it would be classified as a minor forest produce and people would have the right to cut bamboo for sale or for value addition by making furniture or baskets.

The Indian Forest Act 1927, the bible for forest managers in the country, says “forest produce” is what is found in or brought from a forest. This includes trees and leaves and plants that are not trees. Furthermore, trees include palms and bamboo. Timber is defined as trees, fallen or felled. Over the years, foresters have interpreted these provisions to mean that bamboo, being a tree, is timber and, therefore, under the control of the department. The legacy passed down from generations of forest managers has meant that this grass-like tree is not included in the list of minor forest produce.

The minor produce of a forest is everything valuable that is not timber. This produce, from tendu used in beedi manufacture to lac resin and tamarind, is big bucks business. It is also the main source of earning a living for the people who live in and around the country’s forests. The opportunity is to use this ecological wealth for building economic wellbeing of the people, mostly poor, in these rich regions. But forest policy has worked deliberately to destroy this option.

So over the past years different state governments have nationalised different produce and differently handed them over to either federations or contractors or corporations to collect and sell. People, who live in the forests, have no right to sell the nationalised minor forest produce, other than to governments. They are wage labourers and collectors for contractors and forest departments.

B D Sharma, a former civil servant who has spent a lifetime campaigning for the rights of tribal communities to forest produce, will tell you that many attempts have been made to correct this distortion. In 1974, when the tribal sub plan was conceptualised, it was agreed that the collector would be the owner of the produce. But even as the policy got operationalised governments took control over the produce, leaving collectors to be just collectors.

Then in 1996, the Central Act for panchayats in Scheduled V (tribal) areas was passed. It directed state governments to ensure that in these areas gram sabha (the village assembly) would be given the “powers of ownership of minor forest produce”. But even before the ink on the Act was dry, the resource battle was lost again.

First, the forest department objected, saying PESA (as this act is known) did not define what constitutes minor forest produce. As Sanjay Upadhyay, a lawyer working in this area, points out this is when the Indian Forest Act does not define minor forest produce. Second, states made rules to bypass these provisions.

The fight for the minor produce does not stop here. In 2006, the Forest Rights Act (FRA) for the first time defined minor forest produce as including bamboo and tendu and many other things. It also gave tribals and other traditional forest dwellers the “right of ownership, access to collect, use and dispose of minor forest produce, which has been traditionally collected within or outside village boundaries.” Now the fat is in the fire. Tribals and other traditional forest dwellers have the right to both collect and sell bamboo.

What happens now? As my colleagues found when they traversed the country’s tribal districts, the right exists only on paper. Of the 2.9 million claims settled under the FRA, only 1.6 per cent pertained to community rights. Worse, virtually no right of any community has been recognised for minor forest produce. They noted the missing right was deliberate. Governments across the tribal districts ensured no information was ever provided to people that this right was available. The technique was simple: the form issued to people to ask for rights left out this provision.

Two villages did ask. Menda Lekha and Marda in Gadchiroli district of Maharashtra asked for the community right over their forest and its produce. The right was recognised. But as Mohan Hirabai Hiralal, an activist working with the villagers, will tell you this legal right is still not worth the paper it is written on. The forest department now says that people can indeed have control over the sale of the bamboo, but they cannot take it out of the forest. The transit rules over forest produce do not allow for transportation of any produce unless it has been “authorised”. The state forest department is busy inserting provisions to say that people have rights over the minor forest produce, but only if it is for self use.

The forest department will tell you these controls are needed to protect forests. But forests in India are the habitat of millions of people. The conservation of forests will require more productive benefits. The challenge is to use the green wealth and also regenerate it and increase it for the future. Putting a fence around it and negating its value as the livelihood of millions will not do.

So, let us hope that this time the definition of bamboo will remain settled. It is a tree-grass, one that can give a million new shoots and provide a million new jobs to the people.

Source: Down to Earth – Editorial by Sunita Narain (

Hawkers’ fundamental right can’t be left in limbo: Supreme court

Observing that hawkers have a fundamental right to carry on their business, the Supreme Court has asked the Delhi Government to enact a law to regulate their trade keeping in mind also the right of commuters to use roads without any impediment.

“Before June 30, 2011, the appropriate government is to enact a law on the basis of the Bill mentioned [by the authorities] or on the basis of any amendment thereof so that the hawkers may precisely know the contours of their rights, said a Bench of Justices G. S. Singhvi and A. K. Ganguly. It was disposing of a batch of appeals filed by hawkers.

Writing the judgment, Justice Ganguly: “This court is giving this direction in exercise of its jurisdiction to protect the fundamental right of the citizens. The hawkers and squatters or vendors’ right to carry on hawking has been recognised as a fundamental right under Article 19 (1) (g) of the Constitution. At the same time, the right of the commuters to move freely and use the roads without any impediment is also a fundamental right under Article 19 (1) (d).”

Conflicting rights

The Bench said “these two apparently conflicting rights must be harmonised and regulated by subjecting them to reasonable restrictions only under a law. The question is vitally important to a very large section of people, mostly ordinary men and women.”

The Bench pointed out that the government had already brought in a Bill.

The fundamental right of the hawkers, just because “they are poor and unorganised, cannot be left in limbo, nor can it left to be decided by the varying standards of a scheme which changes from time to time under orders of this court.”

The Bench pointed out that hawking in the streets of the capital, whose municipal limits had expanded over the years, was the subject matter of several proceedings in this court.

Quoting an earlier judgment on the need for regulating hawkers, the Bench said: “Considering that an alarming percentage of population in our country lives below the poverty line and when citizens by gathering meagre resources try to employ themselves as hawkers and street traders, they cannot be subjected to a deprivation on the pretext that they have no right”.

Original article can be accessed at The Hindu website.

Rally Demanding Legislation for Street Vendors in Jaipur

Thousand of street vendors from across Rajasthan marched to State Secretariat on September 30 on the streets of Jaipur demanding passing of long awaited Bill on Urban Street Vendors in the State Assembly and early implementation in the state. The bill would ensure protection of livelihood of more than 1 million urban street vendors and will regulate street markets of Rajasthan. Sep 30, being the day of decision on Ayodhya issue it was tough to organize any sort of gathering but the vendor groups were so committed that they wanted the Rally to be taken out on any cost. Bravo to Rahima Sheikh of SEWA who could mobilize many Muslim women to participate in the Rally which made the rally very harmonious.

A delegation of street vendors’ representative from different cities of the state and associated NGOs also presented a memorandum to the Chief Minister Mr. Ashok Gehlot at the end of the Rally urging implementation of the legislation.

The occasion also marked end of 15 day long awareness campaign on the model legislation for street vendors through Rath (Bus) in the state which was flagged off from Jaipur on September 15. The Rath campaigned in mainly in Jaipur, Udaipur, Bikaner, Kota, Jalore, Ajmer and other on rout cities of the state.

Centre for Civil Society has been running ‘Jeevika: Law, Liberty & Livelihood’ campaign in entire Rajasthan state. Under the campaign the organization in association with National Association of Street Vendors of India held a state level Rally and Mass Demonstration of street vendors of the sate on today. Hundreds of street vendor unions from Jaipur, Udaipur, Bikaner, Kota, Jalore, Ajmer and other cities of the state closed their market and participated in the event.

The Rally started at 11 AM from Geeta Ashram, Sodala to proceed for Udyog Bhawan (Statue Circle). The Rally and was addressed by Mr Arbind Singh (National Association of Street Vendors of India), Mr Nathu Singh Rathore (Street Vendor Leader Jaipur), Ghanshyam Kotwani (Street Vendor Leader Jaipur) Mr Uday Singh Rathore (former MLA of Jaipur), Mr Omprakash Devda (Street Vendor leader Jodhpur), Mrs Raheema Shiekh (Self Employed Women Association), Ms Archana Srivastava from (Heinemann Charitable Mission Society), Mr Ranjit Abhigyan from (National Association of Street Vendors of India) and many more street vendor leaders.

Oct 1 in Media i Oct 1 in Media ii Press Release Sep 30 Memmorandum

Mass Mobilization and Awareness Campaign in Rajasthan

We organised Mass Mobilization and Awareness Campaign in entire Rajasthan with help from National Association of Street Vendors of India. We got a Rath (Bus) equipped with all campaign and publicity material. We organised 15 day tour of the Rath from September 15 to 30 throughout Rajasthan to make hawkers aware of National Policy on Street Vendors, adopted by the Government of India. The main purpose of the Campaign Rath is to make street vendors across state aware of their rights and might and to arouse them to march to Jaipur on 30 September for a rally and demonstration before the Rajasthan Chief Minister Office. The proposed Rally will demand immediate enactment of legislation for the vulnerable population of street vendors. Here is the route map as well as the schedule of the campaign:

Route Map and Rath Schedule

  • Abhiyan Rath reached Jaipur on 15 Sept morning
  • It was flagged off around 12 noon on 15 Sept and afterwards it covered areas of Jaipur
  • It reached Ajmer on 16 Sept and 17 Sept
  • It reached Udaipur on 18 Sept
  • It reached Jodhpur on 19 Sept and 20 Sept
  • 21 Sept was a leisure day
  • It reached Bikaner on 22 Sept
  • It moved to other areas on demand from 23-24 Sept
  • It reached Sikar on 25 Sept
  • It returned to Jaipur on 26 Sept
  • It had several mass meetings from 27-30 Sep in Jaipur
  • Rally and Mass Demonstration on 30 Sept

Here are some pictures of the Rath:

Press conference for Rally & Mass Demonstration

We organized a press conference at 1.30 PM in Pink City Press Club, Narayan Singh Circle, today (September 28, Tuesday). The press conference was a success. There were more than 20 media people and many representatives of street vendors’ union in the conference.

To address the press conference we had Mrs Raheema Shiekh from Self Employed Women Association, Ms Archana Srivastava from Heinemann Charitable Mission Society, Mr Nathu Singh Rathore from Jaipur Mahanagar Thadi Thela Vyavasayi Sanyukt Sangharsh Samiti, Mr Ghanshyam Kotwani from Jaipur Mahanagar Thadi Thela Vyavasayi Union and Mr Ranjit Abhigyan from National Association of Street Vendors of India.

Here are some pictures and press release of the conference:

Press Release

Rally and Mass Demonstration in Jaipur on Thursday, September 30

There was a rally taken out in Sep 2009 demanding implementation of national policy/bill in Rajasthan which is going to complete one year and the slow moving bureaucracy hasn’t yielded anything so far. Jeevika campaign is coordinating a huge state level Rally and Mass Demonstration in Jaipur on Thursday, September 30 in demand of implementing the draft bill on street vendors in Rajasthan. The Rally is scheduled to start at 11 AM from Geeta Ashram, Sodala and will proceed for Statue Circle, Secretariat. At the end of the Rally a group of street vendor representatives would meet the Chief Minister of Rajasthan and give a memorandum to pass the draft bill in Rajasthan Assembly and implement in the state.

Please join us in huge number to make the Rally effective. We request you to spread the information of the Rally in your contact and help us making it impactful.

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