City Footpaths - A Battleground for Survival

Like, Naba and Jyotish, every morning nearly 40 men and women of different age groups make their way to the 500 metres long footpath from the nearby places of Guwahati.
City Footpaths - A Battleground for Survival
City Footpaths - A Battleground for Survival

Every morning waking up at the dawn Naba Talukdar, a 38 years old man covers 63 km from Belsor on a fared pick-up van with his mates to Guwahati. On reaching, Naba heads to the market in Garchuk for buying vegetables. He loads on the van and heads towards his final destination – the footpath near the Gopal Boro Government H.S. School in Ganeshguri. He then stays there till 10 at night and returns home to his wife and two daughters. The same repeats the next day. This has been his work routine for the last 18 years.

29 years old Jyotish Baishya, previously a health worker in a private hospital in Guwahati, lost his job asking for higher pay and benefits. Baishya, who originally hails from Nalbari stays in the city in a rented house away from his parents, wife and two-year-old daughter. Waking up early in the morning, Baishya too makes his way to Garchuk, buys vegetables and heads towards the footpath near the Gopal Boro Government H.S. School.

Like, Naba and Jyotish, every morning nearly 40 men and women of different age groups make their way to the 500 metres long footpath from the nearby places of Guwahati. To make ends meet, they set up their market and wait for customers to buy their products. Just when they are settled, a group of law enforcers approach chase them out and confiscate their wares. The sellers try to collect whatever they could but failed miserably and began searching for a hiding place.

For quite a while now, this game of chasing and fleeing has been taking place on the footpath of Ganeshguri. Owing to insufficient vending spaces in the city, vendors resort to selling on footpaths. Likewise, the footpath in front of the school has recently emerged as an undeclared vegetable market.

Not only in Ganeshguri, these frequent eviction drives can be witnessed in any part of the city. These eviction drives have been taking place in the city from years now.  But the city administration is yet to attain a permanent solution to the problem.

While the central government recognised street vending as a legitimised means of living, enacting the Street Vendors (Protection of Livelihood and Regulation of Street Vending) Act in 2014. The act prohibits law enforcement agencies from evicting or relocating the vendors without any prior notice. Still, the plight of the vendors remains unchanged. The act entrusts the Town Vending Committees to demarcate vending zones, carry out surveys to identify vendors and issue CoVs (certificate of vending), yet very limited work has been done in that line.

City Footpaths - A Battleground for Survival
Assam: Civilian Mistaken for Poacher Shot in Baksa

“We are also aware that the market creates difficulties for pedestrians and students of the nearby school to move freely, but we can do little about it. We also have families to feed. I am the lone bread earner for my family,” said Jyotish Baishya.

The vendors in the market unanimously demand designated vending zones.

As per a survey conducted in the year 2015 by a NGO, namely ‘Scorpion’ there is 7,182 street vendors in the city. As much as 24,493 eligible applications received under PM SVANidhi scheme in the city, of which 14,190 applications sanctioned and 10,997 are disbursed as updated till July 14.

Understanding the vendor’s plight, few pedestrians urged the authorities concerned to make necessary arrangements.

“We need this market, though it creates inconvenience to the pedestrians” a buyer from the Dispur area told.

Chandan Goswami, President, of The Street Vendors Association of Assam said, “The authorities have been blatantly violating the Act. First of all, the Act doesn’t allow them to evict any vendor without consulting the Town Vending Committees. Even if they do so, based on public complaints they must provide a list of confiscated items to the vendor, which they never do.”

"There are around 40,000 street vendors in the city. To date only around 600 vendors have been allocated designated spaces in 8 vending zones across the city, which amounts only to 1.5 per cent of the total vendors. Also, to date not a single CoVs have been issued by the GMC,” Goswami added.

Despite the enactment of an act that ensures their safety and security, the street vendors are still facing troubles only because of the authority’s inability to build sufficient vending zones.

An official in the GMC said, “The GMC is to carry out survey of the vendors shortly and aims to finish it within six months. After completion of the survey, the vendors will be given identity cards.”

“The footpaths are only for pedestrians, encroachment on them can’t be allowed,” he added.

City Footpaths - A Battleground for Survival
PEC Mourns China’s First Journo Deaths Due To Covid-19 Complications

Related Stories

No stories found.

No stories found.
Pratidin Time