In a major move that will help street vendors in the state, the process of issuing identity cards to them has begun, as part of a project of the National Urban Livelihood Mission (NULM).
Rehabilitation of street vendors is a project of NULM that is being implemented by Local Self Government Department through local bodies.
The identity cards will be given for the urban street vendors under corporations and municipalities. Mostly, the vendors have been identified under the Kochi Corporation, followed by Thiruvananthapuram and Kozhikode. The civic bodies are acting as nodal agencies in the process.
The process was set in motion in 2014 and the legislation came in March. The first phase of the survey has been done and it’s an ongoing process. Initially, 22,000 vendors across the state will be issued the cards, based on the eligible ones as revealed by the survey. By eligibility, the aim is to identify those whose sole means of living is street vending.
“Those who are eligible will also be given certificates. The whole aim is to rehabilitate them in a way that vehicular or pedestrian traffic is not affected. There are issues like political interference which the association of traders fear could affect their business,” said NULM programme Officer Binu Francis.
It is aimed at addressing the concerns of vendors by enabling them to access appropriate spaces for vending, facilitating access to institutional credit and social security linkages.
Street vending is viewed as a strong link in the urban supply chain which makes goods accessible to all sections of society. The whole idea evolved on the concept that street vendors constitute a crucial segment at the bottom of the pyramid of informal economy in cities. It is viewed as a source of income through self-employment and as a measure of urban poverty alleviation.
“Low levels of education and skills, limited access to formal credit and micro-enterprise support constrain street vendors’ access to emerging market opportunities. Being unorganised and self-employed, street vendors and their families often lack any linkage to social security, welfare and assistance schemes and other initiatives launched by the government, which makes them vulnerable,” the project preface says.