Campaign Updates

Rally and Mass Demonstration against Large Eviction of Street Vendors in Jaipur

Jaipur witnessed large number of eviction of street vendors in January before annual national eeting and conference of Indian National Congress, “Chintan” in the city. Hundreds of street vendors were evicted and their goods and carts were confiscated during the ‘Cleaning and Beautification’ of the city by the authorities.

Jeevika: Law, Liberty & Livelihood campaign of Center for Civil Society in association of street vendor unions of city organised a rally and mass demonstration on January 21, 2012. The objective of the mass demonstration was to protest the injustice of the authorities who instead of protecting livelihood of poor street vendors under the “Rajasthan Urban Street Vendor Act 2011” went on to take away their livelihood.

The rally started from Geeta Ashram, Sodala and went to Chief Minister’s house in Civil Lines where it turned into mass demonstration. Thousands of street vendor including women sat down on Dharna at CM’s residence. The demonstration ended after submitting a memorandum to the Chief Minister and ensurance from authorities of returning the confiscated goods and carts and to stop eviction immediately. Banwari Lal Sharma, Nathu Singh Rathore, Sanjay Garg, Laxmi Devi and other scores of street vendor leaders along with their union members participated in the demonstration.

Earlier a press conference was also organised on January 17, 2013 in Pink City Press Club to communicate the issue to authorities giving enough time to authorities to stop the eviction before going for mass demonstration. However, the authorities didn’t pay heed to the warning.

Here are pictures of the press conference:

Jeevika Campaign Associate, Amit Kumar Gond Addressing the Press Conference

Jeevika Campaign Associate, Amit Kumar Gond Addressing the Press Conference

Snap Shot of the Press Conference

Snap Shot of the Press Conference

Press Representatives during Press Conference

Press Representatives during Press Conference

Representatives of Street Vendor Unions

Representatives of Street Vendor Unions

Here are pictures of the mass demonstration:

Snapshot of Rally

Snapshot of Rally

Snapshot of Rally

Snapshot of Rally

Mass Demonstration at Civil Lines

Mass Demonstration at Civil Lines

Jeevika Campaign Coordinator Interacting with Media

Jeevika Campaign Coordinator Interacting with Media

Here are the press cuttings of the news:

Daily News

Daily News

Rajasthan Patrika

Rajasthan Patrika

Samachar Jagat

Samachar Jagat

Dainik Navjyoti

Dainik Navjyoti

Vanijya Setu

Vanijya Setu

Daily News

Daily News

Rajasthan Patrika

Rajasthan Patrika

Samachar Jagat

Samachar Jagat

Dainik Bhashkar

Dainik Bhashkar

Samachar Jagat

Samachar Jagat



“Livelihood Challenges and Policy Solutions”, One-Day Workshop in Gujrat National Law University

With the aim of creating awareness on livelihood issues of people in unorganized sector of economy Centre for Civil Society in association with Legal Services Committee, GNLU organised a one day workshop on “Livelihood Challenges in the informal Sector and Policy Solutions” on October 7, 2012. This workshop essentially focused on the challenges of livelihood of street vendors and aimed to suggest possible practical solutions that could culminate into a concrete National Vendors Bill as well as effectively discuss the economic rights of rickshaw pullers. This workshop was presided over by Mr.Amit Chandra, (National Co-ordinator, Jeevika Campaign) of the Centre For Civil Society (CCS).

CCS is founded on the principle that the quality of life is intrinsically related to the pursuit of livelihood therefore the Centre develops public policy measures to clear the path for free enterprise and through research, advocacy and outreach activities shift the terms of public debate in favour of deregulation of exit and entry barriers for pursuit of an honest livelihood. The workshop discussed these Socio- Economic issues with regard to this section of unorganised labour sector.

The workshop included a documentary and other techniques (including power point presentations) so as to inform and make aware all the participant about the challenges – both statutory and practical and provided for an effective understanding about the problems at hand with regard to both, street vendors and rickshaw pullers. It also included a drafting workshop for the proposed National Vendors Bill where participants were divided into groups and dealt with specific aspects of the Bill.

Here is the agenda of the workshop:

Agenda

Poster

Poster

Here are some pictures of the workshop:

Student Presentation

Student Presentation

Working Group

Working Group

Working Group

Working Group

Amit Chandra Taking Session

Amit Chandra Taking Session



Global Leaders Visit Jeevika to Learn Entrepreneurship at Bottom of the Pyramid

Jeevika campaign office of Centre for Civil Society in Jaipur hosted a group of business and non-profit leaders from Leaders’ Quest (http://www.leadersquest.org/) to learn entrepreneurship capacity of people at the bottom. The group liked and appreciated campaign’s policy advocacy work for recognizing street vending as legitimate part of urban market distribution system.

The visit was organised by Leader’s Quest and hosted by Jeevika: Law, Liberty & Livelihood campaign of Centre for Civil Society at Jaipur. Eight global leaders of profit and non-profit sector from China, United Kingdom, United States of America and South Africa participated in the visit.

The objective of the visit was to understand:

  1. The informal economy, providing livelihoods and employment for millions.
  2. Entrepreneurial ability at the bottom.
  3. Possible policy solutions for the livelihood barriers.
  4. Policy change and implementation – the story of getting legislation passed in Rajasthan.
  5. Personal perspective on the informal economy from street vendors in Jaipur markets.

The visit started at 11 in morning with a brief elaboration on Jeevika: Law, Liberty & Livelihood campaign work by Mr Amit Chandra, Jeevika National Coordinator wherein he explained in detail the what, why and how the campaign works. We also had three street vendor representatives during the presentation for interaction with LQ participants. The session was followed by questions and answers with street vendor leaders.

After having brief understanding of the issue and the campaign work, the LQ participants visited one street market to witness and understand the challenges. The participants liked to be in the field to see the innovative ways of people making business and understood the challenges.

After the visit the participants once again gathered to share/clarify their understanding and discuss possible solutions of the challenges observed. The visit finished after lunch discussion at 2.

Here is brief profile of participants:

Participants Profile

Here are some pictures of the visit:

Participants in Discussion with Amit Chandra

Participants in Discussion with Amit Chandra

LQ Participants in Discussion

LQ Participants in Discussion

Participants during Field Visit

Participants during Field Visit

Participants Interacting with Street Vendors

Participants Interacting with Street Vendors

Participants Interacting with Street Vendors

Participants Interacting with Street Vendors

Amit Chandra Explaining Business of Street Vendors

Amit Chandra Explaining Business of Street Vendors

Participants tasting Street Food

Participants tasting Street Food

Participants during Discussion

Participants during Discussion



Sustained street vendors struggle yields result as Union Cabinet approves Street Vendors Livelihood Protection Bill

Thousands of vendors at ‘Street Vendors Dialogue with Political Leaders and Civil Society Representatives’ cheer as Union Minister Ajay Maken sends out cabinet approval message

New Delhi, 1 May:  Smiles and cheers prevailed among thousands of street vendors’ representatives on Wednesday at the  “Street Vendors Dialogue with Political Leaders and Civil Society Representatives”  here in Delhi with the Union Minister of Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation Ajay Maken sending a message that the much awaited Street Vendors (Protection of Livelihood and Regulation of Street Vending) Bill had been approved by the Union Cabinet.  The national dialogue was organized by the Centre for Civil Society (CCS) in partnership with National Association of Street Vendors of India (NASVI).

Mr. Maken who was to address the street vendors’ convention could not attend because of his presence in the Cabinet meeting. However, his office sent message of the development related to the Bill. The message read, “Protecting and promoting livelihood of street vendors is of paramount importance for the inclusive growth of cities and towns, and the government is committed to table the Bill in the current session of Parliament itself.”

Based on the recommendations of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Urban Development, the revamped Bill vetted by the Union Cabinet makes the proposed Act having overriding effect over all state and municipal laws  as well as the Police Act.

Hundreds of street vendors from about 15 states joined the National Dialogue at Kamani Auditorium in the national capital and raised their concerns over the delay in passing of the Bill. The main purpose of organizing the dialogue was to build momentum for getting an effective central law passed.

Besides several street vendor leaders of Delhi, Punjab, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Gujarat, Andhra Pradesh,  Tamil Nadu and Kerala, the Congress leader and Delhi MP JP Agrawal,  former director general of Labour and Welfare S.K. Das, FSSAI functionary Suniti Kumar Gupta and CCS Associate Director Shantanu Gupta also addressed the convention.

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Jeevika Campaign on Street Vending – Blueprint

A comprehensive overview of the Jeevika: Law, Liberty & Livelihood Campaign’s street vending program in Rajasthan. View insights based on the Campaign’s four-pronged approach to bring recognition and legal protection to street vendors, by effectively implementing the revised Street Vendors Bill of 2009 and introducing policies and market principles that encourage designated vending spaces and opportune business for the enterprising poor. To read more click here.



Memorandum on The Street Vendor (Protection of Livelihood and Regulation of Street Vending) Bill, 2012

The proposed Street Vendor Bill is commendable in being a first step that will safeguard basic rights of the street vendors of India who have hitherto been neglected and in some cases harassed by the lack of legislation governing their livelihood.

In order to improve the effectiveness of the Bill and its delivery on the promises of equity and dignity to the lay street vendor, the Centre for Civil Society recommends the changes described in this memorandum. These are drawn from firsthand experience that CCS has in working with Street Vendors in Bihar and Rajasthan for several years. We believe these recommendations will help enormously in increasing the impact of the Bill.

To read the Memorandum click here.



Unintended Consequences

Despite Good Intentions, New Legislation Threatens Livelihood of Indian Street Vendors

 – By Emma Rowe (a participant in the Winter School 2013, conducted by the Centre for Civil Society, New Delhi & Centre for Public Policy Research, Kochi)

 Plight of the Indian street vendor

The vast majority of the 10 million street vendors in India are forced into an illegal status as a result of strict regulations and licensing caps. They live under the constant threat of harassment and extortion by public officers and gangs and run the risks of fines and confiscation of their goods, which threaten their very livelihoods. The Street Vendor Bill 2012 that was introduced in the last session of Parliament aims to address these concerns by providing street vendors with social security and livelihood rights. Despite these good intentions, the Bill also legally endorses the eviction of vendors and confiscation of their property in poorly defined circumstances. What vendors thought would free them from a state of uncertainty actually hands more power to officers to continue with their harassment.

Currently, vendors are being fined Rs 1,200 for any offence, a disproportionate amount compared with what the average vendor makes in a day. The new Bill states that the penalty may be up to Rs 2,000, which for some vendors is half of their average monthly income. Eviction and confiscation not only deprive vendors of their working capital, they also lead to a loss of their savings and assets, further limiting their ability to make a living.

Appreciating the street vendor ecosystem

While authorities may see street vendors as a public nuisance, it is important to recognize that they play a vital role in the urban economy. The market is a complex system of which vendors are one of many interconnected components; not only do they generate employment for themselves, they provide efficient distribution systems for small-scale producers, thereby supporting employment in that sector as well. Consumers also benefit from their high volume, low margin business model; lower income households, for example, spend a higher proportion of their income on purchases from street vendors due to their affordability.  Street vendors contribute to an improvement in the lot of the urban poor by effectively providing them a subsidy in the form of cheaper products.

Eviction of vendors as allowed by the Bill will result in loss of livelihood for many smaller suppliers, and consumers will lose their cheap source of daily necessities. It is low-income households, which have the most at stake and which stand to lose the most when policies are directed against vendors.

Issues do arise when vendors’ activities obstruct pavements or encroach on roads.  Crowded footpaths can lead to pedestrians walking on busy roads, and in a country with high pedestrian fatalities, the street vendor is made an easy scapegoat. Pedestrians do deserve consideration, as their safety should take precedence over any other interests.   The assumption, however, that vendors are mainly responsible for cluttered footpaths and roads overlooks the fact that pedestrian facilities are awfully lacking in Indian cities.  In many places footpaths are poorly maintained or non-existent.  Even in areas where there are footpaths, they are often either too narrow or too high, forcing pedestrians to walk on the road. The roads themselves are often cluttered with vehicles. If public money were efficiently directed towards city improvements there could be better pavements and space to accommodate vendors and pedestrians alike.

Residents and shop keepers complain about the crowds and rubbish created by vendors.  More often than not those same parties encroach on public space by erecting fences, planting trees and placing signs on pavements. But these forms of encroachment are condoned by authorities in the name of beautification despite the fact that they can hinder pedestrian movements as much as the presence of vendors.  This lack of even-handedness in law enforcement often adds insult to injury when it comes to street vending.

A basic role of the Government should be to facilitate conditions that enable people to generate income and secure their livelihoods. Since the Government cannot provide jobs for all, the least it can do is create an environment within which the urban poor can earn their living with dignity. Legal endorsement of eviction and confiscation will not only create uncertainty for vendors, it will also run counter to positive measures the government has introduced to reduce poverty. The Government should create an urban plan that incorporates street vending in its long-term objectives.  It should provide conditions where people of all levels of society can prosper.

Lessons from abroad

In the United States, social scientists and public health officials have linked many health problems prevalent in certain areas to food deserts – neighborhoods where residents have limited access to fresh produce.  These food deserts are found mainly in low-income neighborhoods and have been exacerbated by restrictions placed on street vendors who used to operate in those areas.

In some parts of the US, there has been a recent turnaround in sentiment and new food policies have been initiated to address the issue by allowing fruit and vegetable carts to open in neighborhoods regarded as food deserts. Yet, in other areas there continues to be strict enforcement of vending regulations by authorities, which includes arrest, confiscation, and destruction of fresh produce and equipment. These near-daily sweeps undermine access to healthy food and are in complete contradiction to what other government departments are trying to achieve.

The enforcement officers’ actions exacerbate the very same problems the health authorities are trying to combat. The one dimensional public policy approach is a failure on the government’s part to systematically examine the policy processes and their consequences.

Similarly in India, street vendors are the only source of fresh low cost produce in many low-income neighborhoods.  So while vending may generate some problems in poorly regulated areas, it is necessary to consider how eviction may result in unforeseen and unwelcome outcomes; the services vendors provide clearly benefit certain aspects of urban life.

A better way

The Bill hands power to local authorities to evict vendors on account of public nuisance, public obstruction or for any other public purpose. Vendors will be given 7 days notice before eviction and will be fined Rs 500 for every day that they fail to relocate from the site. In addition to eviction, their goods can be confiscated if authorities deem it necessary. The conditions under which authorities can evict a vendor are so wide-ranging that the Bill leaves scope for abuse of authority and arbitrary exercise of power.  In order to protect the livelihood of vendors as the Bill primarily intends to do, legislation should prevent extortion and bribery. Section 34 of the Police Act already vests adequate powers for law enforcement.  Reiterating these powers through the proposed sections on Eviction & Confiscation in the Bill is unnecessary and runs the risk of accommodating further harassment.

The question is whether eviction and confiscation will solve the problem of repeated offending.  Certainly some regulations must be put in place in order to protect the rights of other users of the road, however discovering the root cause of the offences is likely to be better for all parties. Perhaps vendors breach the rules because the local authorities have placed them in areas away from their natural markets, forcing them to move beyond their designated areas.

If this is the case, it could become a real issue down the line as the Bill hands local authorities the power to determine vending zones. Developing informational workshops to provide street vendors the necessary knowledge to earn a living while complying with the law would be a more suitable and long-term solution than eviction. In this regard the Bill is to be commended for its recognition of the desirability of capacity building programmes, and the Government should ensure that it provides adequate support in terms of budgets and facilities to leverage the potential of these workshops.

In addition to vending zones, the Bill empowers local authorities to prescribe the hours that vendors are allowed to operate. Vendors work long hours in order to make a decent living. Restrictions on the hours in which they can work may significantly impact their ability to achieve this. Under the proposed legislation, vendors may be fined up to Rs 2,000 for vending beyond their designated zones and timings.

The workshops should also provide feedback mechanisms for the vendors to negotiate the times allocated to them. There should be flexibility within the scheme to incorporate the nature of their business. For example, a particular vendor’s product may be in demand only in the evening; it would therefore be unjust to deprive the vendor the opportunity to operate during that time frame.

As a cost saving measure for the government, these workshops could be organized in association with existing vendor unions and NGOs.  These organizations would be in the best position to run the workshops as they work closely with the vendors and would be more aware of their requirements. They would also be able to cater for the different levels of education amongst the vendors and establish courses that were sensitive to their various backgrounds and capabilities. This type of approach is crucial, as a one-size-fits-all program will not address the diverse needs of different types of vendors.

Infrastructure is key

Vendors are a product of the market and will continue to exist as long as there is a demand for their services. Vendors are still very much a part of the culture in even the most developed countries and in many cases are a feature of a city that attracts many tourists.  Therefore in new developments, it would be worth considering allocating areas for street vending and providing sufficient sidewalks, not only for the vendors but for the sake of pedestrians in general.

There have been various studies and experimentation on how new development designs can incorporate vendors. First and foremost, all stakeholders must be part of the consultation process; inviting stakeholders to discuss the design can lead to greater understanding amongst the parties. City “beautification” schemes should accommodate the needs of vendors, as these projects will not be successful without their cooperation.

In South Africa, redevelopment of a vendor market showed that investing in infrastructure for vendors lead to longer-term prosperity. A kiosk with electricity and water enables vendors to generate more income; vendors are able to increase their stock and use the kiosk as a storage unit, which saves both storage costs and time that would otherwise be spent packing and unpacking products. In India, the various vendor organizations could provide vendors with the initial capital to purchase these types of kiosks.

Threat of harassment and eviction can act as disincentives for vendors to devote time to the upkeep of their vending areas; security of tenure will more likely motivate vendors to maintain clean and hygienic spaces and to develop a sense of pride and ownership of their workplaces.  Therefore in order to fulfill the defined objectives of the Bill, eviction should ultimately be the very last resort. In the event that relocation becomes absolutely necessary, the authorities should provide a notice period of at least 30 days rather than the 7 days that is currently prescribed in the Bill.



Street Vendor Identity Card Distribution Program in Jaipur

In the process of assisting Jaipur Municipal Corporation to implement Rajasthan Urban Street Vendor Bill 2011 in city, Centre for Civil Society conducted a survey in 23 street markets of 2 Municipal Zones Vidyadhar Nagar and Civil Line on pilot basis to demonstrate the implementation work.

We conducted a detailed survey with help from ‘Heritage City Thadi-Thela and Footpath Vyavasayi Union, Jaipur’ wherein we not only collected information but also verified genuine street vendors. Based upon our survey we developed Identity Cards for around 800 street vendors.

On September 25, 2012 we organized an event to distribute those cards along with educating people about the card and its use. The program was organized in Geeta Ashram, Sodala which witnessed participation of around 500 street vendors from the surveyed markets.

The program was also attended by street vendor leaders, group of civil society and other stake holders. Few of them are Mr Nathu Singh Rathore of Jaipur Mahanagar Thadi-Thela Footpath Vyavasayi Sanyukt Sangharsh Samiti, Mr Sanjay Garg from Centre for Policy Solutions, Mr J. K. Vishnav from Jan Manch, Mr P. K. Mishra; Advocate at Rajasthan High Court and Mr S. K. Sharma; Ex Officer of Indian Revenue Service.

A copy of all the Identity Cards would be submitted to Jaipur Municipal Corporation for their perusal.

Here is media coverage of the program:

Samachar Jagat Dainik Navjyoti

Here is a video clip of the event from BTV News:

 

Here are a few pictures of the event:



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