Right to the Streets and Livelihood: Recommendations for the Pune Municipal Corporation

 

 

From March 27 to April 7, 2017, the students of the Masters  Program in Urban Policy and Governance, School of Habitat Studies, TISS Mumbai studied the life and livelihood practices of hawkers, multiple vulnerabilities which the street vendors face and, the changes brought, if any, by the Street Vendors (Protection of Livelihood and Regulation) Act, 2014 in the city of Pune, Maharashtra. The exercise benefited immensely from the guidance of two local civil society organisations – Parisar and Centre for Environment and Education (CEE). who are working on various urban issues  – public transport, strengthening public participation in planning and governance, informal workers, city planning etc.

The ten day field study highlighted the everyday violence that informal street vendors face from state and non-state actors and yet how they manage to sustain a precarious living by making claims to the space of the city’s streets. Their work also indicated that the approach to street vendors was tilted more towards the regulation of hawkers in the city rather than towards protecting their livelihoods. The approach was at best an ad hoc one, selectively including some within the ambit of licences while excluding others, and arbitrarily assigning vending and non-vending zones within the city without taking the views of hawkers and including them in the decision making process.

While developing a strong critique, the students were encouraged to brainstorm along with members of CEE and Parisar, into thinking about possible suggestions that could help improve the situation of informal street vendors in Pune. The outcome of this brainstorming process was a letter that was drafted jointly by the students and faculty of the Centre for Urban Policy and Governance at TISS Mumbai, CEE and Parisar, Pune. The letter was addressed to the Municipal Commissioner of Pune Municipal Corporation. Here we reproduce the letter to indicate what the the collaborators of this exercise thought were the key actionable points with respect to protecting the livelihoods of street vendors in Pune.

 

April 07, 2017

 

To

The Municipal Commissioner,

Pune Municipal Corporation

Pune, Maharashtra

Subject: Study of Street vendors in Pune conducted by students of Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai

Dear Sir,

Students of Masters in Urban Policy and Governance under Centre for Urban Policy and Governance, Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai, in collaboration with Parisar and Centre for Environment Education (CEE), Pune conducted a study of street vendors in Pune City as a part of Summer Institute from 27th March, 2017 to 7th April 2017.

Summer Institute is conducted as a continuous module of approximately 2 weeks duration, involving immersion in a community and location. Students studied 10 street vendor market areas in Pune, interacted with various stakeholders like TVC members, Encroachment Department, Traffic Police and other concerned departments.

A report of the study will be released shortly.

Following are the suggestions/findings emerging out of the two week-long study regarding the implementation of the Street Vendors (Protection of Livelihood and Regulation of Street Vending) Act, 2014.

  1. The current practice in the Pune city is tilted towards regulation and needs to be balanced with enabling livelihoods as per the spirit of the Street Vendors (Protection of Livelihood and Regulation of Street Vending) Act, 2014.
  2. There seems to be confusion regarding the need of a licence in addition to the Certificate of Vending. However, the Act, recognizing the fundamental right to vend, under article 19(g) of the Constitution, has done away with the concept of a licence. The Encroachment Department, especially the staff that carries out evictions, should be instructed accordingly, after seeking legal clarification for this.
  3. The criteria for categorisation of vendors (A/B/C/D/E), which is based on temporality should be revisited. Other parameters should be included for categorisation like widows, single mothers, old age etc. instead of only years of vending.
  4. All existing natural markets should be documented; such markets should be protected as far as possible. Relocation should be considered in extreme cases and should be preceded by Social Impact Assessment (SIA). Natural market locations should be considered while designating vending and no-vending zones.
  5. The PMC should always carry out the Social Impact Assessment (SIA) of any proposed development project or when change in the existing infrastructure is proposed and should take measures to mitigate the impact on the Street Vendors.
  6. PMC should also conduct pre-and post-rehabilitation surveys to analyse the change in the customers and quantum of trade. Under Extreme Case and as the last resort of relocation, PMC should take active efforts to advertise the rehabilitated places so that the relocated vendors do not lose customers.
  7. The selection of relocation site should be participatory and with the parameter that there should be no loss of customer base.
  8. Pedestrian sidewalks should be wide enough and designed in a way to accommodate street vendors.
  9. The Encroachment Department should follow the procedure for confiscation and reclamation of goods as per the Street Vendors (Protection of Livelihood and Regulation of Street Vending) Act, 2014.
  10. The vending fees should not be charged only based on the market location where the vendors are placed in but also based on the kind of goods they are selling and the vending space they occupy. Equitable weightage should be allocated to each parameter after the study.
  11. Awareness workshops should be conducted for concerned Local Body officials regarding the 2014 Act, related policies; sensitisation among citizens; among vendors regarding their rights and also for clarity of terms in the Act.
  12. Public/ civic amenities like water, electricity, toilets for vendors should be duly provided on a priority basis. 
  13. ULBs should take steps to facilitate microcredit facilities for street vendors and hawkers.
  14. Since road space sharing is a major point of contention between different users, priority should be given to vending as a right to livelihood rather than on-road parking (private use of public space). Hence, parking charges should be higher than Vending fees.

Yours Sincerely,

 

Dr. Amita Bhide

Professor and Chairperson

Centre for Urban Policy and Governance

School of Habitat Studies

Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai

Mr. Avinash Madhale

Program Officer

Centre for Environment Education

Pune

Mr. Ranjit Gadgil

Program Director

Parisar, Pune

 

A signed copy of the letter can be downloaded here: PMC Commissioner Letter_ about Street Vendor Study.

The summer institute is a full-fledged 3 credits course in the academic calendar of the Masters in Urban Policy and Governance program of the School of Habitat Studies at Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai. It is conducted as a continuous module of approximately 2 weeks  duration, involving immersion in a community and location. This year’s institute studied the socio-political dynamics of street vending, especially in relation to the recent Street Vending Act (2014) that cited key constitutional provisions in support of street vendors and established guidelines for state governments so that the state can safeguard the vendors’ right to livelihood. In the following month, we will be posting some of the students’ research in the form of blogs, photo essays, narratives, life stories and analytical pieces that describe in great detail the everyday lives of vendors and local street markets. Watch this space for more.

To see institute reports from previous batches visit our website: http://urk.tiss.edu/winter-institute.html

 

 

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