Many street vendors are from rural parts of Telangana and have no other means to earn money.

We have to earn too Street-vendors of Secunderabad defiant as GHMC cracks down
news Street Vendors Saturday, October 29, 2016 - 18:22

Nawab Basheer, a 59-year-old street vendor near Secunderabad Railway Station has been selling different household products for three long decades. He sets up his small table every day at 1 pm and calls out to people to buy his inexpensive plastic kitchen products and nylon ropes, just like several others in the area.

“Festivals are very important for us, like during Diwali, this product sells the most,” he says. Four years ago, he says he would earn more that Rs. 700 a day, but now he hardly manages Rs. 300. 

With the roads becoming busier, street vendors like Basheer are having a tough time with the law.

In 2013, a PIL was filed by a Secunderabad resident, Brig. (retd) Virender P. Sharma against the GHMC in the Hyderabad High Court, seeking intervention in the ‘encroachment’ of the footpaths.

The court had then directed the Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC) to take action against pavement encroachers in the twin cities and directed the authorities to initiate action under the provisions of the Land Grabbing Act.

“The traffic police don’t allow us to sell anything here after 4 pm. It affects my sale, I hardly get three hours a day to sell my product, which is very less,” rues Basheer.

With a court order in their hands, the GHMC came down on the ‘encroachers’ swiftly. The city corporation later reported to the High Court that with the help of the city police, they had removed 17,988 such encroachments on footpaths.

The law had its victory, but the street vendors went out of business for a full year, suffering huge losses. “This is our livelihood, where else can we go?” Basheer asks. 

Basheer isn’t alone, there are 400 such vendors in their area trying to eke out a living with the law breathing down their necks. 

“The traffic police harass us almost every day. But we have to earn, that’s why even after the harassment we come back every day. We have no other option,” says Mohammad Sajid, Secretary of Telangana Street Vendor Association. He says he pays 15-20 challans every month, which is more than Rs. 1500 out of his small income.  

Many street vendors are from rural parts of Telangana and have no other means to earn money. It is unfair to ask them to move without thinking about their problems as they have to bear their family’s responsibilities, Sajid says.

Ahmed Shekh, who has been selling footwear in Secunderabad for the past 10 years, said that he is the only earning member in the family. 

“Evening is the peak hour for our shops, but at 4 pm we have to close the shop because of the traffic police, that is one of the main reasons we are facing loss.”

The GHMC is not entirely oblivious to their woes. The street vendors were recently provided with ID cards to regularize their activity. There is also a proposal to divide the streets into different zones in a bid to regulate the street vendors and decongest traffic, Sajid explains. 

According to the new system, the registered vending zone - green zone - will be where the vendors can carry out their business. There will be a non-registered vending zone, the yellow zone, where vendors will be permitted to sell on a particular day or at a prescribed time. No activity will be permitted in the red zone or in the no-vendor zone.

Will the new system be fair to the vendors? Sajid hopes so. 

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