Activists raise concerns against rampant eviction of street vendors in Bengaluru

Before the assembly elections, Rahul Gandhi called street vendors the “city’s assets”. During the last month, the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike has evicted hundreds of street vendors from areas such as Malleswaram, Banashankari and Jayanagar in Bengaluru.

TODAY, a planned eviction drive of street vendors in the Banashankari market was called off by the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) after the vendors produced identification cards.

The BBMP has evicted hundreds of street vendors from areas such as Malleswaram, Banashankari and Jayanagar in Bengaluru during the last month.

Today, activists, including members of Bengaluru Jilla Beedhi Vyaapari Sanghatanegala Okkuta (Federation of Street Vendors Unions of Bengaluru), confronted the staff of BBMP with provisions of the Street Vendors (Protection of Livelihood and Regulation of Street Vending) Act, 2014.

The Act was the product of decades of activism to protect the rights of street vendors and ensure their dignity and livelihood.

According to Section 3 (survey of street vendors and protection from eviction or relocation) of the Act, no street vendor can be evicted unless the ‘town vending committee’ has undertaken a survey of all street vendors.

The provision also states that no street vendor can be evicted till the survey has been completed and a certificate of vending has been issued to all street vendors.

This is to ensure only those street vendors who are not registered with the ‘town vending committee’ are evicted.

In 2017, the BBMP conducted a survey and issued identification cards to around 20,000 street vendors in the city. The BBMP has been criticised for missing over a lakh street vendors in its survey. A fresh survey is pending to be conducted.

“Illegal evictions”

Vinay Sreenivasa, member of Bengaluru Jilla Beedhi Vyaapari Sanghatanegala Okkuta, told The Leaflet that vendors in the city are being evicted despite holding valid identification cards. This is in contravention of the law, Sreenivasa added.

Sreenivasa explained that the street vendors are not given thirty days’ notice before eviction, as mandated under Section 18 (relocation or eviction of street vendors) of the Act.

In addition, the BBMP fails to maintain a list of goods seized during evictions, violating Section 19 (seizure and reclamation of goods) of the Act, Sreenivasa stated.

According to Sreenivasa, the state government stands in violation of Section 32 (research, training and awareness) of the Act for not undertaking necessary training and raising awareness, particularly among the BBMP staff and the ‘town vending committee’, despite repeated memorandums.

When Rahul Gandhi visited Bengaluru in April before the Karnataka state legislative elections, he referred to the street vendors as the ‘city’s assets’. With the Indian National Congress (INC) in power, why are street vendors, who need to be protected, illegally evicted?” Sreenivasa asks.

Does the INC’s vision of Brand Bengaluru hold no space for street vendors?” Sreenivasa added.

Brand Bengaluru’ is an initiative of the ruling INC for the “comprehensive development” of the city “to create an ecosystem that fosters collaboration, empowers individuals and drives positive change for the betterment of its residents and the world”.

Demands at the press meet

Yesterday, a press meeting was held in the city on the issue of street vendors to share the demands and concerns of the vendors.

Among others, Babu S., street vendor (Vijayanagar) and president of Bengaluru Jilla Beedhi Vyapari Sanghatanegala Okkuta, spoke at the meeting.

The following are some of the demands raised by the activists and street vendors:

  • A first information report should be filed against the BBMP authorities for illegally evicting street vendors.
  • Those who were illegally evicted should be allowed to vend again. 
  • Compensation should be given to vendors for the days they are not allowed to vend. 
  • A survey needs to be conducted under the Street Vendors (Protection of Livelihood and Regulation of Street Vending) Act, 2014.
  • Awareness workshops for the BBMP police officials need to be conducted. 
  • Grievance redressal mechanisms, as mandated by Section 20 of the Act, should be set up.
  • Goods seized during the evictions should be duly returned to the vendors.

With the gap between law and implementation leaving much to be desired, the battle for the dignity of street vendors will continue.