While the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) is planning to allot hawking pitches by the end of February, citizen activists fear that the implementation of this policy might get further delayed if the hawkers’ union demands a survey. Even as the hawkers surveyed in 2014 are yet to be allotted a place, it is already time for another survey.
Almost five years after the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) conducted a survey of hawkers in the city, it is yet to allot hawking pitches to around 17,000 eligible hawkers.
According to the Street Vending Act, the BMC has to conduct a hawkers’ survey every five years and the last one was in July 2014 and the most recent one was due in July 2019. Of the 89,000 hawking pitches demarcated in the survey, the BMC had finalised 31,264 in 2018. Of the 99,435 city-based hawkers surveyed in 2014, around 17,000 were declared eligible in 2019. The deadline for hawkers to furnish proof of their eligibility was extended to August 25, 2019. In this two-month extension period, the civic body received 2,235 more applications. Seven town vending committees (TVC) have to now finalise and allot pitches to these hawkers.
Nikhil Desai, activist and member of TVC in Zone 2, said, “Although the BMC has expedited the process, it is already too late, as the next survey was to be conducted post-July 2019. Meanwhile, many wards are also facing opposition from residents who do not want a hawking zone on the roads outside their residence. The final phase of allotment will have to jump over all such hurdles.”
A senior civic official, requesting anonymity, blamed the delay on the shortage of civic staff. “The process of finalising eligible hawkers for the concerned zones from applications received until August 25, 2019, is in progress. Only 15-20 per cent of the work is pending and we are hopeful of completing the allotment of pitches by the end of February unless there is a stay at the central level,” he said.
The official added, “The allotment will be done phase-wise. Initially, allotments will be done only for two roads in each ward.”
Janardan Singh, president of the All India Unorganised Workers Congress, said serious administrative lapses have led to the delay, and “the delay has not been because of us”. He also said eligibility forms of several hawkers have not been meted “proper justice”. “We have been saying that they will not be able to allot pitches to eligible hawkers before the next survey,” he averred.
However, subsequent delays in the formation of the town vending committee (TVC) and other issues delayed the overall process. But after the 2017 Elphinstone stampede that claimed 23 lives, the work had picked up pace. Now, the final decision on hawking pitches in the city is in the last stage and is expected to be out by February-end. This has left the hawkers worried, since they did not get pitches in the past four-and-a-half years and yet, another survey is knocking on their doors.
After the zone level meeting, the final decision will be taken by a committee headed by the municipal commissioner Praveen Pardeshi.