M-Powering Local Communities: TISS and MCGM Open a Study Centre in M-Ward

Text by Gitanjali Sharma, Photos by Martin Pheiga

On September 16, 2017, a neighborhood in M-East Ward was abuzz with activity. Several people were seen dropping everyday chores and heading to the newly built and inaugurated M-Power Study Centre, a community space for learning, reading, conversations and exploring new opportunities. “I am all excited to start off with the courses! I have enrolled for computer classes and English speaking course,” said Ansari Shehzadi, a 12th standard student.

M Power structure

M Power structure1

The M-Power Study Centre is located in the M-East ward of Mumbai, one of the poorest areas in the city and home to over 8,07,720 (Census 2011) residents. The ward’s human development index is the lowest in the city representing an infant mortality rate of around 66.47 per thousand live births, out-of-school children between the ages of 6 to 14 years is 1,490, and more than 50 percent children are malnourished. The M Ward is also the immediate neighborhood of the Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS). The students and faculty of TISS have used the ward as a teaching and experience base for several decades. TISS, on the occasion of its Platinum Jubilee year- 2011 initiated a project called The Transforming M Ward Project that hoped to fulfill its social obligation to the people of the ward by generating knowledge and using it to build strategic partnerships for transformation of the human development conditions in the ward.

M Power Inauguration
Several residents of M-East ward visited the centre on the day of its inauguration.


The M Power Study Centre is a part of the Transforming M Ward Project. An initiative by the Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai (MCGM), and managed by TISS, the study centre promotes higher education and prepares youth from slums to break the glass ceiling of higher education. It is imagined as a space for peer learning in a peaceful environment, a resource centre of books and learning materials, a repository of virtual resources and a space to build capacities of youth to appear in competitive exams. “The place is giving the students opportunities we never got,” said Abrar, an elderly from the neighbourhood community “And it is safe for girls to study in.”

M Power library
A session called ‘Playing With Numbers’ at the M-Power Study Centre Library helps young students understand mathematics through fun activities.

It is a 10,000 sq. ft. space with a large open area to sit and study, a library with reference and textbooks in English, Marathi, Urdu and Hindi and access to virtual resources through a Wi-Fi connected computer center. M-Power will conduct spoken English courses, prepare students for competitive exams as well as prepare them for civil service exams and higher educational institutions, including the TISS. One of the biggest successes of the M Ward Project has been its partnership with the community who are co-creators of activities. Community members from the ward have contributed to construction of tables for computers, chairs and the day-to-day monitoring of the space.

“This particular centre is situated in a place that is surrounded by different schools belonging to different state boards but they all are either up to class 8th or 10th. This centre will provide all students a platform to study. The concept of building a human library other than just a library filled with books is an amazing idea. By sharing knowledge the students will be empowered. I would like such centres to open up in different wards.”

– Salim Patel, Community Development Officer.

Among the various courses offered at centre are English speaking courses with CV building guidance, understanding content through computer based learning (CLIx), Collaborative Undergraduate Biology Education (CUBE) courses and science experiments. These courses can be availed by the students by paying a minimal fee of Rs. 50 for the monthly membership or Rs.2 for per day usage. English speaking courses are taken by Teach India fellows, the science experiment by BARC resource person and CUBE by professors from Homi Bhabha Center for Science Education (HBCSE).

M Power- Teach.JPG
A CV building session organised by Teach India prepares students for the job market

It’s a very good initiative that provides children with more opportunities. Also, the environment of the place is so neat and clean, it gives positive vibes. – Nalini Tripathi, Teach India

CUBE Labs: CUBE courses trigger curiosity among students to question and then answer those questions by using daily use products or everyday life encounters to understand complex biological processes. “We teach scientific processes to students through everyday visible organisms. By culturing organisms common to all, like earthworm, fruitfly, water flee, through various methods we teach students through case studies rather than just books. Students get involved in the science and lose their fear of the subject,” said Arunanand Chandrashekhar, Professor, CUBE Labs.

Library: The library at the center is one of its main attractions. It is an initiative of Dharam Bharti Mission (DBM). The library not only provides access to various books but is also a platform to provide them with career guidance through the career counselors who will visit every the library every Saturday. The library also plans on initiating a series of seminars on the first Saturday of every month. The speakers for the seminars will be addressing various aspects in order to motivate students to join various fields. “We already have five students who have come with queries regarding studying for UPSE exam. The library will provide the students aspiring to appear in different competitive exams and an environment to support them in their studies,”  said Mr Paramjeet, Dharam Bharti Mission.

M Power- Science
The session ‘Science with Magic’ decodes the mysteries of science for the students.

Computer Centre: The space also has a computer center which is managed by the computer section of TISS. The computers are run on the software CLIx (Connected Learning Initiative) which is a TISS-MIT collaboration product created to enhance the process of teaching and learning. This particular course was taken up like hot cakes on the day of registration.

The study center wouldn’t have been possible if it wasn’t backed by the community support. The community has welcomed the center with open arms. “I got to know about the place through my teacher. I was surprised to see that such a place was actually being constructed in our locality. I would want to come here every day,” said Umesh, a 10th standard student.  The acceptance for the center and the satisfaction was seen in various forms, it varied from elder to the students to officials to teachers. “It’s the best initiative that has come up in this area for students,” said Ansari Quresha, teacher, “In minimal money the students will get to learn so many different courses and get access to various kinds books in the library.”  





M-Ward Youth Mela: A Day of Science, Learning and Gaana Bajaana

Text by Gitanjali Sharma, Photos by Martin Pheiga
Youth Mela

Youth Mela2
The M-Power Study Centre was dressed up for the Youth Mela.ption

On September 16, 2017 when we first visited the M-Power Study Centre — a beautiful, spacious, red-tile roof structure in M-East Ward of Mumbai — the excitement was palpable. The Centre was dressed up in streamers and balloons, set to begin the celebrations of the Youth Mela, a platform where youth from the local residential community come together, get to know each other and explore opportunities. Community participants were racing up and down to make the final preparations before people walked in. Tables were being set up where participants could help visitors decide and register for the various courses and facilities offered by the center. “We were here till 11 PM last night doing the decoration so that the center looks beautiful for the Youth Mela,” said Aksir, a local resident and youth mela participant.  

Youth Mela3
Students learn more about the different courses offered at M-Power Centre during the Youth Mela.

The M-Power study centre is a part of the Transforming M Ward Project at the Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS), Mumbai. The project was first initiated in 2011 by TISS with the ambitious goal of transforming a ward with the lowest Human Development Index and some of the poorest populations in the city. An initiative by the Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai (MCGM), and managed by TISS, the centre promotes higher education and prepares youth from slums to break the glass ceiling of higher education. The Youth Mela, a one-day celebration organised by TISS and community members of M-ward, was one of the first events held at the Centre.

I call stall
I-Call Stall: The I-Call, a helpline located in the Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai provides counselling over the phone.


The event had several stalls, games, performances organised and created by the residents of M-Ward and TISS, including one by I-Call, a helpline located at TISS that provides counselling over the phone. The stall made the students and the community members aware of the kind of help they provide and that anyone can get in contact through the study center. There were also stalls by instructors and students from Dharam Bharti Mission Vocational center, showcasing the skill of mehendi and stitching. Apart from these, there were also a bunch of students explaining various experiments undertaken by them during the CUBE lab lecture. Some of the other lectures conducted on the day included a session on CV building, a session called Science and Magic that explained kids about the reasoning behind science and urged them to question facts and not take them for granted.

Enter a captiLawani Performances: The day ended with some gaana-bajaana.

The Youth Mela and all the fanfare would not have been possible if it wasn’t backed by community support. The community from the neighborhood has worked tirelessly to make the mela a success. Towards the culmination of the youth mela there was a short cultural program in which there were two Lawani performances. With the performances the Youth Mela came to an end, with a large number of registrations for courses and an overall overwhelming response from the community.


Mumbai Floods: Balancing the needs for Development and Climate Change

Sanjana Krishnan*

Mumbai rains have almost always been accompanied by flooding in several parts of the city. While it is a yearly phenomenon, and an intuitively known and well-researched fact that the poor are more vulnerable and susceptible to the risks of climate change, this article tries to answer two questions. Firstly, it tries to quantify the risk and find out how disproportional the risk is. And secondly, how much of this risk is because of climate change?

To assess how prone land in Mumbai is to the risk of flooding, and to answer who occupies that land, the major land use classification affected in the flood hotspots were analysed. The map of the existing land use from the DP was overlaid on the flooding hot spots map and the land use in risk of flooding was determined.  

Slums are not uniformly distributed across the city area — 41.85%, over 5 million people (5,207,700) live in slums along water creeks, hill slopes (risk of landslides), on the periphery of forests, low lying flood prone areas and along railway lines. A lot of these areas have no storm water drains (outlets to nallahs), or flood walls. Overlaying the map of flood affected areas and slum settlements, for different parts of the city, we can observe that almost every slum settlement lies in a flood prone area or in its 1000m buffer. There are very few slums in the unaffected areas. This is reflected in the maps below.

Sanjana K

 Vulnerable settlement and Flooding risk (1): Ward G/N, F/N, H/W, H/E,L,M/E,M/W

Sanjana 2

Vulnerable settlements and flooding risk (2): Ward K/W, P/N, P/S, S, T

Sanjana 3

For the island city, all the different land use in the 200m buffer around 72 flood hotspots was extracted. On QGIS, data about the risk level was entered in the attribute table. The major land use in the overlapping region was identified. By measuring the area affected, it was found that though slums occupy just 2.92 sq.km and cover just about 16% of the total amount of residential land use, its share is almost 50% of the affected residential area (Occupies just 3.7% of total land, but is30% of the total affected land). This shows how risk disproportionately affects the people living in the slums.

Land Use at risk

Sanjana 4

Sanjana 5

The RDDP makes all its estimates and plans based on the demography, socio-economic status and amenities required for its residents and the economy and infrastructure of the city. It situates itself within the realities of the city, which are mainly, but not limited to, dealing with an almost entirely built city, with large amenity deficits created by past non-implementation, extremely high land costs and the municipal corporations limited ability to fund the DP. However, there are several shortcomings when it comes to how climate adaptation is thought about in the city.


Climate change considerations in city development plans are seldom addressed under the head of climate change, rather they are thought of as, and even confused with-

  1. Environmental issues, pollution  
  2. Issues arising from the lack of development
  3. Disaster management issues

Climate Change in the present context is not the most pressing problem that our cities face. Given the poverty, lack of housing, unemployment, inequitable distribution of resources and services, poor health care and education, environmental issues, intolerance etc. it is probably not even in the top 10 problems.

The issue of dealing with the risks of climate change becomes easier and more straightforward in cities of developed countries, where most of the everyday governance problems have been solved. Efficiency is good even for developing cities of course, but with huge socio-economic inequalities in consumption, the agenda of reducing emissions treads dangerously close to suggesting stifling consumption or limiting emissions at current levels, even when basic consumption levels have not been reached.

But having said that, one cannot ignore the climate change needs of the city, and sideline the actions that need to be taken in the present to adapt to and mitigate future risks. Various studies, including this one, has shown that poor communities and groups are more susceptible to the risks of climate change, and the vulnerability is a result of their socio-economic status. To take climate action, there needs to be a weighted balance between the development needs of the present and the climate needs of the future.  

There are always human factors that further aggravate the risks that climate change pose. Every year in Mumbai, several low-lying areas flood because construction in cities happen on floodplains despite knowing the dangers. Pipes and drains built a hundred years ago are unable to hold volumes discharged by present cities. Concretisation prevents percolation of water to the ground. The big problem of houses being built on flood plains in all cities despite the danger of natural flooding exists. Factors of overuse of plastic clogging gutters and a lot more of human made mistakes that are the exacerbate the problem more than the rainfall. It is important to remember that several problems are not due to the lack of adaptation, but due to the lack of governance and development.

Similarly, several authors have conflated the vulnerabilities of communities with the broader umbrella of climate risk to talk about climate vulnerable communities, community centred climate adaptation, and community level climate change vulnerability, and suggest strategies to safeguard these communities from the risks of climate change. Very often, the term ‘climate smart development’ is used to describe what needs to be done for climate change in a developing country, but is in fact just the basic development needed.

The findings of this study also prove that vulnerable settlements face a disproportionate climate risk, but do not tell that they are at risk due to the lack of adaptation (alone). While adaptation risk is faced by any and every person occupying the land at risk, the reason for the additional risk faced by vulnerable groups is because of the lack of development. The study stresses that this difference should be recognised, and that it be dealt with differently.

They must be kept separately and dealt with differently. Why?

Because when adaptation is confused with issues and mistakes humans make, the adaptive strategies are full of recommendations to correct this. Adaptation then gets reduced to dealing with government inefficiencies, building citizen consciousness and providing sturdy infrastructure

Similarly, by confusing it with environmental issues like the destruction of mangroves or pollution, we may end up making the local environment more green and clean, but that is not the root of the climate problem and does nothing to deal with climate problem.

While all of this is extremely vital, they are not climate change adaptive measures, they are the basics needs for development. Adaptation is essentially a spatial concept, and the measures needed for adaptation is something more than this. The measures undertaken for solving issue of development, governance and the environment will not be sufficient to tackle the demands climate risk place on us.

* Sanjana Krishnan completed her Masters from the Centre for Urban Policy and Governance in 2017, and currently works for a data driven policy consulting firm, CPC Analytics. She won the best MA dissertation prize (2015-2017). The above piece is an edited excerpt from her dissertation, reproduced here in relation to the incessant flooding Mumbai has faced this monsoon. Student dissertations are a core element of the Urban Policy and Governance course where students get to carry out in depth research on current topics drawing from the cross cutting thematics and interdisciplinary course content. To know more click here.

Politics of the Street: Design, Density, Diversity and Claim making

Sept 17_Streets workshopWhat: Closed workshop

When: 17th September 2017

Where: Institute of Development Studies Kolkata

The Centre for Urban Policy and Governance (CUPG), TISS Mumbai in collaboration with Institute of Development Studies Kolkata, University of Calcutta Centre of Urban Economic Studies, Architecture Department IIEST Shibpur and National University of Juridical Sciences, Kolkata, has organised a one day workshop on the politics of the street and claim making. The workshop is a part of a broader study conducted at the Centre. A multifaceted research project “Right to the City”, aims to study the various aspects of claiming and upholding the right to the city, particularly for marginalised and excluded communities and groups that inhabit the urban space.

Within the broader rubric of the Right to the City, the project is attempting to re-conceptualise the right to the city by examining the contested and often contradictory “rights to the street” as a democratic and socio-political right which is increasingly under threat from the dominant capitalist urban planning and development paradigms that seek to reduce the street to a particular function – as merely a space for vehicles carrying goods and people, replacing accessibility with mobility.  One of the key stakeholders in this highly contested space and a co-producer of the space of the street as a space of production, accumulation and of livelihood is the hawker. Interestingly, the National Urban Transport Policy (2006) makes no mention of street vendors. Yet, the National Street Vendors (Protection of Livelihoods and Regulation of Street Vending) Act 2014, a product of a long struggle by hawkers and activists, clearly recognizes hawkers to be an important component of street and street life (Bandopadhyay 2007). This study is located in the cusp of these contradictions and attempts to understand how hawkers and their struggles contribute to the production of urban space, especially the street and the challenges faced by them in the current neoliberal urban regime (Harvey 2006).

It is hoped that this study will be able to open up a space for debate and discussion across multiple stakeholders in order to re-envision streets and footpath as a common urban resource to be shared across different stakeholders.  

Workshop Schedule

Introduction: 10:00 am- 10:30am

Dr. Ratoola Kundu

Chairperson, Centre of Urban Policy and Governance, TISS Mumbai

Session I: 10:00 am to 11:30 am

Findings of the research – Right to the Street


Puja Bhattacharyya (Presidency University), Baidehi Das (Delhi School of Economics), Suman Choudhury (BE Shibpur), Dr. Anushyama Mukherjee, Dr. Ratoola Kundu


Mr. Murad Hussain

Hawker Sangram Committee

Prof. Mahalaya Chatterjee

Professor of Economics, University of Calcutta,  Centre of Urban Economic Studies

Dr. Saurabh Bhattacharjee

Assistant Professor, National University of Juridical Sciences, Kolkata

Dr. Tathagata Chatterji

Professor, Urban Management and Governance, Xaviers University, Bhubaneswar

Panel discussion I: 11:30am to 1:00pm

The road/street as a contested space: A multi stakeholder viewpoint

This session deals with the multiple and often conflicting claims that are made on the space of the streets and sidewalks stemming from the various different uses and users of the street in the Indian context. It will seek to understand the way in which streets and footpaths have changed historically in terms of their design and in relation to their context. The focus will be to understand how streets/roads are conceived of and designed and how this design then affects and influences social behaviour, accessibility and mobility. It will also delve into the issue of how multiple issues obstruct flows of pedestrians and vehicles such as laying of cables, disruption to infrastructures such as METRO and cables and fixing of water main etc. The session will also elicit perspectives from residents or citizens groups and market associations who have specific claims to the pavement and the streets – as pedestrians, in terms of access, in terms of business, also face issues such as road safety, parking, solid waste management, etc stemming from the multiple pressures on streets and footpaths.


Prof. Souvanic Roy

Professor and Founder- Director, School of Ecology, Infrastructure and Human Settlement Management, Indian Institute of Engineering Science and Technology (IIEST), Shibpur

  1. Mobility and Accessibility: Changing use/form of roads, traffic conditions and its implications on road safety and other issues

Dr Aparajita Chakroborty, Centre for Urban and Economic Studies, University of Kolkata

  1. Citizen perspective on hawking versus walking versus parking

Pradip Kakkar, Co-Founder, PUBLIC

  1. Road as infrastructure: Perspectives on road and footpath design, maintenance, widening and the conflicts that arise

Mr. Sudipto Pal (Traffic and Transportation expert, RITES Ltd.)

  1. Footpath as a resource: Perspectives of Shopkeepers

Mr. Uday Sahoo, Hogg Market Traders Association

Lunch- 1:00pm to 2:00pm

Panel Discussion II: 2:00pm to 3:30pm

Governance of Streets: Mediating Conflict

This session will broach the issue of governance, regulation and mediation of conflicts at the level of the street, neighbourhood and the city. This will look at the informal and formal channels of governance used, kind of trade-offs are made, spaces of participation, including different voices in the decision making, difficulties of making these decision, kind of support required by local leaders to address the conflicts that emerge on the streets.


Dr. Ritajyoti Bandopadhyay

Assistant Professor, Indian Institute of Science Education and Research, Mohali

  1. Self- regulation and role of hawkers union: How multiple conflicts and stakeholders play a role in a commercial area like Esplanade and the different institutions that are involved in regulating conflict

Mr. Debashish Das, Joint Secretary, and Mr. Shaktiman Ghosh Hawkers Sangram Committee

Role of Zilla Parishad and Panchayat leader in Rajarhat New Town area in reorganizing hawkers and rehabilitation into hawkers stalls

Jahanara Begum, (TMC) Member of Zilla Parishad, Chandpur, Bishnupur, Patharghata

  1. KMC’s role in dealing with hawkers and markets, how has it changed and what can be done in future to regulate hawking

Mr Shanatan Biswas, Deputy Director, Solid Waste Management Dept. KMC

Panel Discussion III: 3:30pm to 4:30pm

Informality and the Streets:  Multiple Actors and the mobilization of their claims at different scales

This session is about the informal codes, practices and institutions or collective associations that use and regulate the street and challenge current formal regulations, laws, and practices in order to include different, excluded, marginalised groups in claiming a stake to the city’s streets. From cycling groups to auto rickshaw unions, the discussion will also touch upon the national level mobilization and challenges with respect to implementing the SVA 2014 at the state and city level.


Mr. V Ramaswamy, Mahanirban Calcutta Research Group, activist, urbanist and academic

  1. Reclaiming the right to cycling in the City: the coalition of cycle enthusiasts and those whose livelihoods depend on the cycle

Dr Kallol Bhattacharya (President) Kolkata Cycle Samaj and Mr Raghu Jana (Convener), Kolkata Cycle Samaj

  1. Auto rickshaw unions and their political mobilization in Kolkata – challenges in negotiating city space.

Prof. Samita Sen, School of Women’s Studies, Jadavpur University.

  1. National level efforts at mobilizing the hawkers and implementing SVA 2014 – the challenges and contestations.

Dr. Debdulal Saha, Assistant Professor, Centre for Labour Studies and Social Protection, School of Social Sciences and Humanities, Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Guwahati.

Way forward and Vote of thanks: 4:30pm to 5pm

Closed Workshop: Understanding the Status of Smart Cities Program in Maharashtra


On September 4, 2017, a small group meeting was organised at Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS), Mumbai to critique and further understand the Smart Cities Mission in Maharashtra. This collaborative initiative was spearheaded by the Centre for Urban Policy and Governance (CUPG), TISS, and INHAF  – Habitat Forum. Participants included organisations associated with various urban initiatives, such as Maharashtra Social Housing And Action League (Mashal), Symbiosis School of Economics, Committee for the Right to Housing (CRH), Center for Environmental Education (CEE), Youth for Unity and Voluntary Action (YUVA), Center for Promoting Democracy (CPD), Indian Institute for Human Settlements (IIHS), Bangalore, and Habitat Lab, Vigyan Bharati, and independent academicians, researchers, and NGO representatives.  

The Smart Cities Mission is one of the three most important urban initiatives by the current National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government — the other two are Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban and Transformation (AMRUT) and Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (PMAY) Housing for All by 2022. This highly ambitious flagship program demands substantial organisational and financial resources. As many as 100 cities have been identified under the program and the central government has earmarked Rs 48,000 crore for the development of these cities. Each smart city is set to get an assistance of Rs 100 crore per year for five years from the Centre. Eight smart cities — Pune, Solapur, Nagpur, Thane, Pimpari-Chinchwad, Kalyan-Dombivali, Nasik and Aurangabad — have been sanctioned in Maharashtra, and two — Mumbai and Amaravati — are awaiting approval.

These heavily funded smart city projects, designed around definite project strategies and governance practices, need to be understood in the context of the demanding and complex urban challenge. The state of Maharashtra has the highest number of cities shortlisted under this mission after Tamil Nadu (12 cities) and Uttar Pradesh (13 cities). Projects sanctioned under this mission are at an early stage of planning and implementation. Thus studying smart cities projects implemented in one state i.e. Maharashtra in the context of emerging trend of urbanisation, processes and responses, presents a unique opportunity. This meeting was planned to discuss the rationale, objectives and the methodology for studying the status of smart cities in Maharashtra. It also intended to identify probable partners, resource mobilization and overall plan of action of this study. The participants emphasised the great need to understand this flagship program through perspective of citizens. The efforts of studying the mission must be through participative, consultative and collaborative mode of research. All participants expressed their willingness to contribute towards this study in their own capacity.

The co-ordination team for this study is led by Professor Amita Bhide, Centre for Urban Policy, TISS, Mumbai along with Avinash Madhale, CEE, Pune, Professor Jyoti Chandaramani, Director, Symbiosis School of Economics, Pune and Dr. Anjali Mohan, Independent Researcher and Consultant.


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



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


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



A View From The Top: What Government Officials Think of Street Vending

By Sanika Godse

Paud Phata Fish Market, Photograph by Martin Pheiga

The livelihood of street vendors is influenced by an intricate grid of customs, laws and regulations, and an array of state and non-state actors that interact with them daily. While the existing perspectives pit the state against street vendors, or else, points to the active collusion between state functionaries and vendors; this piece seeks to nuance the characterisation of the state actors vis-a-vis the vendors by highlighting how state actors perceive and empathize with street vendors. Thus it shifts the lens away from street vendors and captures the perspective of three state actors that influence the livelihoods of the fish vendors at Paud Phata Fish Market. How do they understand and imagine the role of street vendors in a city?

Zonal Encroachment Department Officer: The ‘Encroachment Department’ evokes images of ruthless, violent eviction drives. But while interviewing the Zonal Encroachment Department officer, I got a different perspective. As he explained the procedure of eviction drives, and the procedure of reclaiming the confiscated goods, he talked about how deeply it pained him to carry on with the drives. He spoke about feeling sympathetic towards poor vendors, migrants, elderly vendors etc. While these sentiments did not prevent him from carrying out his duties, interestingly, this was not just a mere feeling. Even though he believed in protection of the vendors’ rights, he said there was a gap left by the absence of clear-cut guidelines which would govern and restate the duties to be carried out by the Encroachment Department. The duty (occupation) of the officer is inherently in conflict with his social conscience.

Food and Drug Administration Officer: The FDA is one of the key stakeholders to the profession of vending, since they supply licences to all vendors selling edible items. Since food standards have to be followed strictly, it has an important task of keeping constant vigilance over the kind of food, hygienic practices etc. followed by the vendors. Since they are also involved in proceedings of court cases, they have to be very careful about the identity of a person before issuing a vending certificate for food items.

However, the officer I spoke to said that while photo-IDs, proof of residence, other identity documents are required to issue a food vending licence,  the FDA relaxes the norms and is flexible enough to allow people who do not possess any such documents to obtain a licence with a simple affidavit saying that they would not indulge in malpractices. The officer earnestly talked about conducting workshops to create awareness about hygiene, raising the standard of quality of services provided by the vendors and general awareness regarding safe food practices among vendors as a part of their already overburdened job profiles.

Here, we can see the opportunity of convergence between the officer’s occupation and his socio-economic consciousness. His duty, which allows him to enable vendors to carry out their occupation, becomes an enabling factor for the larger question of livelihood as he seeks to improve their knowledge base, implications of their actions, and an improvement in their standard of living.

Town Vending Committee member — Vendor Union Leader: One of the TVC members who was a Union Leader of Street Vendors, spoke about how the Union is not simply designated for grievance redressal, but also to codify professional ethics for the members. According to him, the members of his union were very cooperative with other stakeholders like pedestrians, residents of localities, and especially women in their surrounding areas, unlike non-union member vendors who harass them (allegedly in Mumbai).

He spoke of creating workplace ethics of mutualism, where hawkers would save the residents fuel, time and money by vending goods at specific times in their societies. The society in turn would provide the hawkers with amenities like fresh water, shade, storage space etc., provided they shared fraction of the bills for the same.

Some might argue that this is a very utopian idea of the functioning of a Vendor’s Union, but the sentiment behind these ideas is addressing the question of livelihood of all stakeholders, rather than just addressing the professional issues faced by Vendors.

However, the most significant statement made by him was that the progress of a Union is indicated not by its consolidation, but by its disintegration. After completing its function as a negotiator on behalf of individual vendors, the larger objective is to empower all vendors to live a steady life. The process of protection of livelihood, will be complete after the Unions are dissolved simply because they will have outlived their purpose.

Conclusion: It is perhaps wrong to assume that the state is an agent of violence and is blind to the poverty and vulnerability of street vendors. The perspectives of the state actors also reveal that they are also human and recognize street vendors as people and not simply an official category that is to be regulated and controlled as per law. Unfortunately this recognition does not always translate into more humane actions and thus reveals the internal contradictions that state officials face while acting according to the diktats of law.

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