National Policy on Urban Street Vendors: Report & Recommendations
The National Commission for Enterprises in the Unorganised Sector (NCEUS) was set up in 2004 by the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government as an advisory body and a watchdog for the informal sector. That same year, the Prime Minister’s Office asked the NCEUS to examine the National Policy on Urban Street Vendors. The policy’s objective was to provide urban street vendors with a supportive environment in which they can earn their livelihoods. After consulting various stakeholders, the Commission recommended a revision of the policy’s implementation mechanisms.
The NCEUS noted that the urban poor in most Indian cities worked in the informal sector because of a lack of jobs in rural areas, few employment opportunities in the formal sector, and low levels of education that restricted access to better-paying jobs. As unorganised sector workers, street vendors did not have government-assisted social security.
The National Sample Survey (1999-2000; 55th round) stated that there were 43.64 lakh workers engaged in retail trade on the streets in rural and urban areas. These workers had to conduct their business in insecure conditions and did not have a fixed place of work.
A study by the National Association of Street Vendors of India (NASVI) in the year 2000 showed that the average income of street vendors was between Rs. 40 and Rs. 80. Most worked over 10 hours a day in gruelling conditions.
According to NASVI, Mumbai had the largest number of street vendors at 250,000, while Delhi had around 200,000, Kolkata had more than 150,000, and Ahmedabad had around 100,000.
The Supreme Court of India (in the Sodhan Singh versus NDMC case, 1989) ruled that under Article 19(1)(g) of the Constitution, street vendors could exercise their constitutional right to carry on trade or business. Hence, street vending should be properly regulated and not abolished.
The centrepiece of the National Policy on Urban Street Vendors was the Town Vending Committee (TVC), which municipal authorities had to set up in each ward of every town. The NCEUS recommended that TVCs must deal with issues like registering hawkers, issuing identity cards, disseminating information about credit, identifying restriction-free hawking zones, collecting revenue from street vendors, and taking action against defaulters.
Factoids and Focus compiled by Pratik Dixit.
National Commission for Enterprises in the Unorganised Sector, New DelhiThe Commission had the following members: Dr. Arjun K. Sengupta, Dr. K.P. Kannan, Dr. R.S. Srivastava, V.K. Malhotra, Dr. T.S. Papola and B.N. Yugandhar.
National Commission for Enterprises in the Unorganised Sector, New Delhi
01 May, 2006