Hundreds of street vendors sat in protest on Monday outside the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike’s (BBMP) South Zone office, after they were not given identity cards by the civic body. An identity card from the BBMP helps street vendors avail government schemes like loans and health insurance schemes. The IDs have not been issued even though officials have conducted surveys close to a year ago in September 2017.
The survey by the BBMP officials were initiated following a Karnataka High Court order which was hearing petitions about hardships faced by street vendors, in the form of extortion and harassment by local strongmen and police. Babu, president of Bengaluru Jilla Beedhi Vyapari Sanghatanegala Okkuta, said, “We will not leave until we are provided by ID cards.”
“In some areas like Koramangala, Sarjapur etc, people are being evicted as they don’t have ID proof. It is also important for medical insurance, banks ask for ID cards when we ask for loan. Especially, women are struggling to avail these benefits due to a lack of an ID card,” he said.
At the time of survey, various NGOs had pointed out that while the number of street vendors is estimated to be more than a lakh, the BBMP had only counted 25,000 persons.
In September 2017, street vendors had also written to the South Zone Commissioner, pointing out that officials were demanding money from vendors in order to be included in the survey, and were also citing trivial excuses like shortage of forms for stopping the surveying exercise abruptly.
Street vending is protected by the Street Vendors (protection of livelihood and regulation of street vending) Act, passed in 2014, which states that all vendors be given ID cards/ licenses and that they can’t be evicted..
Recognition of street vendors is also mandatory under the Deendayal Antyodaya Yojana – National Urban Livelihoods Mission (DAY-NULM) scheme of the central government.
Reports in July had indicated that even among the 25,000 street vendors who were identified by BBMP staff, only 2,000 ID cars were ready.
BBMP South Zone Joint Commissioner, Commissioner and the Mayor could not be reached for a comment.
Importance of street vendors
Harini Nagendra, Professor of Sustainability at Azim Premji University, said street vendors are important in both social and economical aspects for a big city like Bengaluru.
“Street vendors keep the character of any neighbourhood of the city. Also, street vending is a very important means of livelihoods. Normally, when we think of the economy we think of the big shops, malls but street vendors contribute more to sustainable practices,” she said.
She added that there are studies across the world which show that malls and departmental stores which may be far away, result in buying of perishables much more than required. This results in more waste generation.
“With street vendors around, it makes it easier for people to buy fresh things for the day or the next day and in the process reduces wastage,” she added.
Moreover, it adds to the social fabric of the city in many ways.
By discouraging street vendors she said that it is not only disrupting the economy and impacting sustainability but also the cultural fabric of the city.
“One thing that studies have shown and also we have seen experientially that street vendors help in keeping security of the city especially in the evenings and nights; places with street vendors are much safer for women,” she added.