HYDERABAD: Hyderabad which received ‘Creative City of Gastronomy’ award from UNESCO (United Nations Economic, Social and Cultural Organisation), in 2019 failed to stick to the vital parameter of keeping the importance of hawkers and their efforts in strengthening the urban economy.
The civic body, in its report submitted to the UNESCO, stated that apart from making creative food at affordable prices, the hawker community also added employment for two lakh individuals in the unorganised sector. It also said in the employment generation sector, the IT segment contributed four lakh jobs in the city, which is only restricted to one part of the city. However, apathy of policymakers in the GHMC has been depriving hawkers and vendors of availing PM SVANidhi (PM Street Vendor’s Atma Nirbhar Nidhi), a micro credit scheme for street vendors.
Every year, the Centre promotes setting up vending zones in cities and sanctions funds for the same to municipalities. The GHMC is lagging behind in utilising those funds for promoting and improving street vendors’ business.
According to GHMC officials, a total of 34,878 street vendors in the city who were affected by the Covid-19 lockdown last year were given Rs 10,000 immediate relief by the civic body, the highest in the country. However, almost same number was affected during the current year's lockdown and the corporation authorities are yet to upload the data into PM SVANidhi.
This apart, non-regularisation of street vendors has left several thousands of them unable to reclaim their ‘vending zones’ after the footpath encroachment removal drive in 2018. A look at the Mission for the Elimination of Poverty in Municipal Areas (MEPMA) figures brings to light that there are 69,331 street vendors in Telangana of which more than 24,000 street vendors reside in the GHMC limits. These vendors were expected to do their businesses in the 750 free vending zones identified by respective urban local bodies, most of which are located at specific areas, defeating the purpose of wide scale inclusion.
There are only 300 restricted vending zones created while there are over 200 no vending-zones. The GHMC is yet to ascertain the exact number of vending zones, as per MEPMA data. On the contrary, the GHMC data suggests, till date, the municipal corporation has identified over 1.56 lakh street vendors in its limits and issued identity cards to nearly 1.44 lakh of them. The GHMC may be leading in terms of issuing identity cards to street vendors, but the same spirit is missing when it comes to setting up vending zones for street vendors. However, the GHMC claimed that the demarcation of 138 vending zones were completed out of a total 152 identified, but could not shift the vendors to these zones till date.
According to the GHMC corporators, the corporation's enforcement displaced over 50,000 petty hawkers and vendors since 2018 when the civic body embarked on the footpath encroachment removal drive and by levying hefty fines to them which has been continuing till date....