Explained: Who Is A ‘Street Vendor’ In India, And What Is The Street Vendors Act Overview

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A street vendor is a person who sells goods and services to people but does not have a fixed place of selling. An estimated 50-60 Lakh avenue distributors are all over India.

In the cities of Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, and Ahmedabad there are a concentrated amount of street vendors. On average the street vendors in India work for at least 10 to 12 hours every day. These are mainly migrants from other states coming to the city to sell their goods and services.

Under the current government, around 3 Lakh vendors across the nation were given business loans. The PM SVANidhi scheme was started to ensure that there is a smooth flow of capital in the businesses of the vendors who come under the Street Vendors Act. Street vendors, under PM SVANidhi, get upto Rs. 10,000 worth loans for easy functioning of their business.

The Statistics

Street vendors in India cover up 14 percent of the total (non-agricultural) urban informal employment in the country. The street vendor sector is full of problems. They have a major issue of licensing as most of the street vendors don’t have licenses to carry out their work. Let’s take for example Mumbai. In Mumbai, there are 15,000 licenses against 2.5 Lakh street vendors. This results in illegally selling goods and services to the people. In the process, they also become subject to extortion and exploitation from the hands of police and Municipality authorities.

When out in the market there have been instances where the police come in their vans to remove the encroachers and take away their goods. These eviction drives affect their business adversely as they even have to pay a heavy fine. Over time street vendors started unions and associations and their own NGOs to support themselves. 1,400 street vendor organisations and trade unions that have a presence in 28 states come under The National Hawker Federation (NHF). It’s an umbrella organisation that covers all the street vendors across the state.

National Association of Street Vendors of India (NASVI)

The National Association of Street Vendors of India (NASVI) was formed in the year 2014 by the previous government. This gave birth to the landmark Street Vendors Act 2014 (Protection of Livelihood and Regulation of Street Vending). The government is also setting up rules for the hygiene of selling cooked food by street vendors.

The Act was introduced to safeguard the rights of street vendors. It was brought into practice so that nobody could exploit the street vendors who are already poor. Then Union Minister of Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation, Kumari Selja introduced the bill in the Loksabha.

To make sure that all street vendors, identified by the government, are accommodated in the vending zones subject to norms, the Street Vendors Act envisages the formation of Town Vending Committees in various districts.

The Street Vendors Act is not in practice in all the states in the country. Barring a few places in Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh and Punjab, town vending committees haven’t been formed, and street vendors continue to take care of themselves.

The Bottom Line:

The Street Vendors Act was introduced by the government to empower the urban vendors so that nobody could exploit and extort them and so that they can avail loans granted specially for them. Under PM SVANidhi the street vendors get loans upto Rs. 10,000 for their business. The Street Vendors Act was introduced by the previous government in 2014. The current government has granted loans to street vendors under the Street Vendors Act 2014. For more such information and a variety of products that suit your financial needs, head over to Finserv MARKETS.