Street Vendors / Hawkers

The DP revision process till now has not been a participative and inclusive process especially with respect to the most marginal groups in the city; one such group being the hawkers in the city. The hawkers, we argue are an inseparable component in urban centres like Mumbai and their contribution in making the city has to be recognized. It is through them that the majority of Mumbaikar’s are able to buy their daily requirements at cheap rates. The Hawkers are the providers of cheap vegetables and subsidised food items that even a poor man on the street can afford. It is due to their hardwork that our urban centres prosper. Yet our city and state refuse to accept such facts and numbers in the city. Therefore it is not surprising that hawkers – who number almost 3 lakh in Mumbai – are not counted in the DP process and will thereby be left without any plausible share in the city’s development plan for 2014-2034. Hence, it is our aim to incorporate their concerns into the DP as well.

Major issues
The Street Vendors are an integral part of urban living in Mumbai. They cater to the needs of the innumerable citizens cutting across class boundaries. It is estimated that about 3,00,000 hawkers earn their livelihood in the streets of Mumbai and support at least 4 times the above mentioned number (dependent in their families) – therefore about 12 lakh people depend directly upon hawking as profession for livelihood and survival. Most importantly through backward linkages they actually support the livelihood of many small scale manufacturers who regularly supply their goods to these vendors.

The street vendors are a reality of our times. The neo-liberalization and the decentralization of industries have meant that the urban poor are increasingly sidelined in our urban centres without any jobs or livelihoods. The MMRDA Draft Plan (1996) notes that in 1961, 65 per cent of Mumbai’s workforce was employed in the organised sector and the remainder in the unorganised sector; 30 years later the proportion was reversed. By 1991, 65 per cent of employment was in the unorganised sector. The latest figures in National Sample Survey (2004-5) show that 80% of Mumbai’s workforce falls under informal or unorganized sector.

These workers are usually the most marginalized and are viewed as an obstacle to Mumbai becoming a world class city. This issue is being strengthened by the present DP revision process and the ELU survey which does not address or map the livelihood issues of these hawkers who form about 10% of its population. We firmly believe that the present DP revision process needs to address this issue at the earliest and the street vendor’s need to be incorporated in it. In this situation we are demanding for the DP to have a clear space allocation for hawkers in master plan for the protection and promotion of the livelihood of hawkers in Mumbai.

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