Even as the Centre seems firm on safeguarding the hawkers with or without licenses, city retailers, shopkeepers and hoteliers are up in arms against the Street Vendors Bill.
As a mark of protest against the Street Vendors (Protection of Livelihood and Regulation of Street Vending) Bill, 2012, the Federation of Retail Traders Welfare Association (FRTWA) has said it will knock the door of the Supreme Court (SC) if it is cleared by the Rajya Sabha.
The Bill, which will be effective once approved by the Rajya Sabha, states the number of hawkers allowed in a city will be 2.5 per cent of the total population. For Mumbai, which has a population of 1.25 crore, the figure is about 3.25 lakh. This means, the number of vendors will increase by a lakh from the current figure. Meanwhile, there is no action being taken against hawkers by the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC), whether authorised or not, until the policy becomes effective.
“We are not opposed to the licensed hawkers. But we are against the government protecting unauthorized vendors too,” said Viren Shah, president of FRTWA which has 250 area associations attached to it in the city. Presently, there are 15,159 licensed hawkers in Mumbai.
The retailers feel hawkers will not only occupy footpaths outside shops, but also take away business by selling goods at a relatively cheaper rate. “They (hawkers) are not paying taxes like we do. So, they can afford to sell goods at a lower price. We will not let hawkers do business outside our shops,” Shah said.
The retailers plan to take up the matter first before the two-member committee formed by the BMC to look into the issue by conducting street surveys. “As soon as the committee begins its work, we will convey our stand. We will not allow the number of hawkers to rise,” he added.
Ahar, an umbrella body of hoteliers, too said they will object to policy if it allows cooking along road. According to a Supreme Court (SC) order, cooking has been banned on road. “If cooking is permitted along streets, then we will have to highlight this contempt of court order,” Arvind Shetty, chief of the Ahar.