Cen­tre le­galises street vend­ing and gives the pro­fes­sion its due re­spect. But ac­com­mo­dat­ing ven­dors is a chal­lenge

Down to Earth - - CONTENTS - JY­OTIKA SOOD

Dis­counted by city plan­ners, street ven­dors will now get their own space as per a new law

IT WAS late 1970s. Each time Ma­havir’s un­cle from Delhi vis­ited his house in Feroz­abad dis­trict of Ut­tar Pradesh, the teenager would lis­ten with rapt at­ten­tion sto­ries of glitzy city life. It did not take Ma­havir too long to pack his bags, leave his par­ents’ home and reach the cap­i­tal city in search of a job.“I man­aged to start work­ing with a street-food ven­dor. Within two years I had saved enough to buy my own rehri, or hand­cart. It’s been 30 years since. Ev­ery day, I place my rehri on the foot­path at Kas­turba Gandhi Marg and sell chaat,” he says.“The ` 10,000 that I earn ev­ery month is enough to feed my wife and three chil­dren. With the earn­ing I man­aged to give my chil­dren ed­u­ca­tion. They have now grown up and are ca­pa­ble of earn­ing a liveli­hood.”

Ma­havir’s chaat is a favourite among food­ies. “But my cus­tomers also ac­cuse me of crowd­ing up the foot­path. They say rehri­walas en­croach their walk­ing space and cre­ate traf­fic chaos, ”he says.

“Street ven­dors are, no doubt, a big nui­sance. They park their hand­carts wher­ever they want to and cre­ate traf­fic jams, ”says Suresh Ra­jput, traf­fic con­sta­ble with Delhi Traf­fic Po­lice. “First one ven­dor places his hand­cart on the road. Grad­u­ally, within a week a small mar­ket ap­pears around it.”

David Ja­cob, an icici em­ployee at Chit­taran­jan Park, Delhi, com­plains that street ven­dors park their hand­carts right in front of the bank. “Our cus­tomers com­plain that they never get space to park their ve­hi­cles.We asked the po­lice to in­ter­vene sev­eral times, but to

PHOTOGRAPHS: VIKAS CHOUD­HARY / CSE Most of the street ven­dors in In­dia sell food

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