The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) is finalising steps to form a Town Vending Committee, which will henceforth be the single point authority on granting licenses to vendors and hawkers across the city. Letters have already gone out to the city traffic police department, local residents associations and hawkers associations to nominate members for the committee. The BMC hopes to get cracking with the committee in place, by the end of the year.
The reason the civic body is stepping on the gas now is obvious. The return of illegal hawkers at almost every location from which they were shooed away earlier this year has come as a major embarrassment for them as well the city police. Hill Road in Bandra, for instance, has illegal vendors openly hawking theirwares within a few metres of city top cop Satyapal Singh’s bungalow. And while several cops ensure Singh has a quick and safe passage home every evening, not even a single cop bothers to question the presence of the hawkers.
But the authorities seem to have been shaken out of their stupor finally. An order from the Bombay High Court has asked the BMC to come out with a Town Vending Committee to stop encroachment, free the footpaths and ensure only licenced hawkers are allowed to conduct business at designated hawking zones.
According to sources in the BMC, the committee’s main work will be identifying hawking zones and approving licences. Most importantly, this committee will comprise not just BMC officials but include traffic cops and members of citizens groups. The Town Vending Committee is also likely to follow the National Hawking Policy that the Supreme Court asked for in an order in September 2013.
How the committee plans to function
The BMC-led committee will be involved in completing a photo census of all hawkers, registering vendors and also keeping a check on new vendors. One of the plans, an official said, was to provide an initial 10 years lease to all stalls, renewable for a further 20 years. “The fact that illegal hawkers are a nuisance cannot be denied and the administration is not trying to solve the problem according to the National Hawking Policy. The BMC will carry out a census and issue licences but all the major decisions regarding granting of licenses will be taken by the Town Vending Committee (TVC),” said a senior BMC official.
When contacted, BMC’s Licence Department Chief Superintendent, Sharad Bande, said, “We have already sent out letters tovarious authorities and citizen bodies inviting them to be a partof the committee. We would keep a 60-40 ratio, wherein 60 percent of committee members would be from citizens groups, eminent citizens and from hawkers associations whereas 40 percent will be administrators from the city police department and the BMC.”