State Level Convention on Street Vending

20 January 2011, S. K. Memorial Hall, Patna

Centre for Civil Society, Nidan and NASVI (National Association of Street Vendors of India) came together to celebrate Street Vendor Day on Jan 20 in Patna. To mark the occasion a state level convention of street vendors of Bihar was organised in Shri Krishna Memorial Hall. The convention was joined by around 3000 street vendors from across state. The agenda of the convention was to push for legislation for street vendors in the Bihar on the basis of National Urban Street Vendors Bill 2004.

The convention had the honor of having three cabinet ministers of current government in Bihar along with Members of Legislative Assembly, Member of Parliament, Mayor and many more esteemed leaders. Here is list of honorable guests:

Sr. No. Name Portfolio/ Position
1 Dr. Prem Kumar Urban Development Minister
2 Mr. Ashwini Chowbey Health Minister
3 Mr. Janardan Singh Sigriwal Labour Minister
4 Md. Ali Anwar Member of Parliament, Rajya Sabha
5 Mr. Bhola Singh Member of Parliament, Nawada
6 Mr. Arun Kumar Sinha Member of Legislative Assembly, Kumhrar
7 Mrs. Asha Sinha Member of Legislative Assembly, Danapur
8 Mrs. Poonam Devi Member of Legislative Assembly, Digha
9 Md. Afjal Imam Mayor, Patna
10 Mrs. Vimla Devi Tulsiyayan Mayor, Muzaffarpur
11 Mr. Vinay Kumar ‘Pappu’ Deputy Mayor, Patna

The convention started with welcome of participants and a brief overview of policy advocacy efforts so far by the anchor of the event Mr. Rakesh Tripathi. At the outset of the program street vendors from different parts of the state shared the agony of their day today life and the suffering they have to go through to make their livelihood. A skit was also performed hardship of life and struggle for street vendors in Bihar. The play had emotional appeal and connected well with the audience.

The welcome note for honorable guests was delivered by the Mr. Arbind Singh, Executive Director of Nidan and National Coordinator of NASVI. Mr. Singh emphasized the need and significance of legislation for street vendors. Addressing the convention he said, “Nidan in Bihar and NASVI at national level have been putting effort for policy change in state for around 10 years now. We tried all democratic tools to send our message to the government. We have been promised several times but nothing concrete has come out so far. We believe this convention is the last platform for our demand and hope the new government would fulfill our long awaited demand. Now, we along with street vendor unions are loosing patience and trust in government.”

Mr. Ashwini Kumar who is currently holding the Health Ministry said, “I have been engaged for the cause of street vendors for long time now. There was a time when money was extorted from the street vendors. We stopped the contracting system of revenue generation from street vendors in the entire state which has resulted into no extortion now. My ministry is working for health schemes for poor street vendors. I promise to bring health, medicine and doctors to the doorstep of poor street vendors.”

Md. Ali Anwar, Member of Parliament (Rajya Sabha) said, “There was a time when eviction drive was on its prime in cities of Bihar against the poor street vendors. Now the time is over. Mr. Nitish Kumar Chief Minister of Bihar has ordered for a pilot survey of street vendors in Bihar and soon he is going to come full fledge on this. It is sad that the issues of cycle rickshaw pullers, street vendors and other poor are disappearing from the agenda of political parties today. I will put up a question on the problems of street vendors in parliament.”

Mr. Amit Chandra, Campaign Coordinator of Jeevika: Law, Liberty & Livelihood campaign emphasized on the significance of informal sector and the development model to be created for overall development of the state. Addressing at the convention Mr. Chandra said, “Bihar has come out of dark age and growing with fast pace today. There are different models of development which has been applied worldwide. Today, not only India but the entire world is looking up at Bihar. Bihar government needs to apply the model that helps all and which is best suited to the state. The people of Bihar also want development which is clearly visible with the result of last election. There was significant contribution of youth and women in this year polling and they are the most impatient population so the government has to be careful while drafting its policies and schemes. Street vendors are a significant part of informal sector and contribute enormously in the urban distribution system. Legislation for poor street vendors would bring the growth of the state close to poor people and help them participate in the development process as well as benefit from it.”

Dr. Prem Kumar, Urban Development Minister promised to work out legislation for street vendors in the current financial year. Addressing at the conference he said, “Every street vendor today has a challenge of leading a life with dignity. I am aware of the problems that the poor street vendors have to face in their every day life. We will put a proper system at place for the convenience of all. I have passed the order to draft legislation and my officers are working on it. I will try to pass the legislation by the end of current financial year and implement in the state. We are also working on urban employment schemes to reduce the problem of poverty and unemployment in the cities of the state. We are running Indira Housing Scheme in rural areas to give well planned concrete house to the poor of villages. We have also erected night shelters to help the homeless urban poor in the winter.”

Mr. Arun Kumar Sinha, Member of Legislative Assembly (Kumhrar) promised to continue advocating for street vendors. “I have always stood for the poor of the city whenever I have been approached and I will continue standing for them. Bihar is growing today which is very important for growth of India. We would create an exemplary society in Bihar which would benefit all”, he said at the event.

Mrs. Poonam Devi, Member of Legislative Assembly (Digha) shared the idea of creating vending zones for street vendors on the vacant government land. Addressing the audience at the event she said, “I have seen the poverty very closely and lived among them. I am aware of the suffering the poor street vendors have to go through in their everyday struggle to make their living. You are fighting for your rights and I support you. There are empty government lands in the city. We would work for creating vending zones and shops for poor street vendors.”

Many other street vendor and their leaders also addressed the audience to share their problems and experience. At the end of the convention Mr. Satyendra Narayan delivered the thank you note.

Here are some media coverage of the convention:

Aaj Times of India Telegraph Sanmarg Rashtriya Sahara Prabhat Khabar Hindustan

Hindustan Times Dainik Jagran

Here are few pictures of the convention:

Here is a video where Urban Development minister at the convention:

Bihar Urban Development Minister on Street Vendor Policy