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MMC mulls satellite markets to decongest Margao

caption: A vendor sells fruits from his handcart in Margao

MARGAO: Margao Municipal Council (MMC) could soon have satellite markets to accommodate hundreds of street hawkers and vendors; however land paucity could become major hindrance to setting up the market.

If sources in MMC are to be believed, the civic body has already started the process to identify land to accommodate street hawkers operating within Margao.

However, a source informed that the process is in the initial stage and could take some time as land is yet to be identified. At the same time, he said the civic body has to comply with the Supreme Court order to demarcate vending zones.

The demarcation of ‘restriction-free vending zones,’ ‘restricted vending zones’ and ‘no-vending zones’ should be city/town specific in order to ensure that the city/town master/development plans provide for adequate space for street vendors to run their activities.

The official informed that the development attains significance following a Supreme Court judgment in 2015. Maharashtra Ekta Hawkers Union and another  against the Municipal Corporation, Greater Mumbai and others where the Supreme Court had observed that the hawkers have a right under Article 19(1)(g) of the Constitution of India.  He said that this right, however, is subject to reasonable restrictions under Article 19(6).

The official further states that the court had pointed out that in the last four decades, there has been a manifold increase in the number of street vendors / hawkers in all major cities of the country. One of the many factors responsible for this is unabated growth of population without corresponding increase in employment opportunities.

The other factor is migration of rural population to urban areas. A large section of rural population has been forced to leave their habitat because of massive acquisition of land and substantial reduction in number of cottage industries.

He said that the court observed that a reason which contributed to this scenario is unlike other sections of the urban population. The vendors neither have the capacity to demand that the government should create jobs for them nor do they engage in begging, stealing or extortion.

The importance of street vendors and hawkers can be measured from the fact that millions of urban poor across the country procure their basic necessities mainly from street vendors because the goods, viz clothes, hosiery items, plastic wares, household items, food items, etc, sold on pavements or through push carts, etc, are cheap and the lower income groups spend a large proportion of their income in purchasing goods from street vendors / hawkers.

The official said that the Apex court had given a few guidelines till a Protection of Livelihood and Regulation of Street Vending Bill becomes a law, the livelihood of millions would be saved and they will get protection against constant harassment and victimisation.

He said some of the guidelines laid by the Supreme Court include a town vending committee to be constituted at city/town level while also creating satellite markets, weekend markets for the roadside vendors who want to apply for a vending site on a time-sharing basis.

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