news Friday, July 17, 2015 - 05:30
  The National Association of Street Vendors of India (NASVI)  has raised objection to Aam Aadmi Party’s new scheme of starting the "AAM aadmi" Canteens which promises to provide "nutritious" food at subsidised rates, as low as from Rs 5-10. NASVI has objected to the proposal as it would affect the lives of around five lakh street vendors who thrive on the business. NASVI states that this decision would be a major setback to all the vendors who provide cheap and hygienic food to labourers and students, and that this decision will directly affect the street vendors who ultimately will die of starvation. The association also says that the previous governments had tried to introduce such schemes in the past, but had failed miserably as they were restricted to only selected spots or the quality of food was compromised. They also asked for the government to mention the amount of money that would be spent as subsidy to run these canteens. This proposal was first drafted by the Delhi Dialogue Commission (DDC), which was finally approved by the Chief Minister, Arvind Kejriwal on July 16. Ashish Khetan, DDC Vice-Chairman did not reveal detail to the media but did mention that these canteens would come under the Food and Civil Supplies Department.  The management of these canteens would be outsourced to NGO’s or private agencies. Reverse Osmosis systems would also be installed to provide clean water. Arbind Singh, National Co-ordinator of NASVI told The News Minute that they have sent a letter to the Delhi Government and are awaiting their reply. Instead of opening new canteens, Singh says that the government can fund the already established street vendors and provide them with infrastructure and train them to serve even better. In this way, none of the street vendors would be affected and their business will be legalised too. Singh also says, "As the market is open for all to compete, we do not have any legal option, but we will definitely explore all the options that we have, even if it means protesting on the streets of Delhi." The statement also mentions that the street vendors are continuously harassed by Municipal authorities and police and that they have to pay "hafta" to please them. Despite all this, the street vendors of Delhi do provide affordable food to all those dependent on them. It is to be noted that Tamil Nadu also has similar canteens, named "Amma" Canteens which are quite a success. The state government of Tamil Nadu spends around Rs 65 crore annually to run 225 canteens. Calls to AAP representatives went unanswered.    

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