Govt says over 3.58 lakh street vendors covered, only registered ones benefiting: Hawkers’ union

After the lockdown-like curbs were imposed in the state in April due to a rise in Covid-19 cases, Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray had announced financial assistance of Rs 1,500 each for street vendors and set aside Rs 61.75 crore for the same.

Even as the state government extended financial assistance of Rs 1,500 each to more than 17,000 registered hawkers in Mumbai and over 3.58 lakh across Maharashtra, the All India Trade Union Congress (AITUC) Hawkers’ Union has claimed the current system of disbursal of aid to only registered street vendors has deprived a significant section of the benefit.

After the lockdown-like curbs were imposed in the state in April due to a rise in Covid-19 cases, Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray had announced financial assistance of Rs 1,500 each for street vendors across the state and set aside Rs 61.75 crore for the same.

The notification, issued by the Urban Development Department on April 29, stated the scheme will benefit all eligible hawkers. Similar assistance is also being extended to autorickshaw and construction workers. It will also cover the street vendors who had submitted an application seeking a loan of Rs 10,000 under the PM SVANIDHI financial package.

According to the Directorate of Municipal Administration (DMA) data, 17,776 hawkers in the city have been extended financial help so far while the process of reaching out to 3,740 others was on. Of the 4,11,745 lakh hawkers identified across the state, so far, 3,58,950 have been given financial help and 52,795 cases are in process, the DMA said.

“We have disbursed financial help to more than 3.58 lakh hawkers of the total 4.11 lakh. Many cases are in the process and we are hopeful of completing them in the coming days. We have made good progress in the scheme,” Dr Kiran Kulkarni, the director of DMA, told The Indian Express.

The hawkers’ union, however, as the urban local bodies had failed to implement Street Vendor (Protection of Livelihood and Regulation of Street Vending) 2014 a large section of hawkers has been left out of the scheme.

“In Mumbai only there are over two lakh hawkers. Now, the state is giving financial assistance to only over 20,000 registered hawkers. They are also giving benefits to those who got help under the PM SVANIDHI scheme. A huge section of urban poor has not been included in the scheme,” Syed Haider Imam, the general secretary of AITUC Hawkers Union, said. Imam had earlier written to the CM seeking financial assistance for all surveyed hawkers.

The DMA, meanwhile, clarified the state scheme was as per the notification issued by the government. “As per the criteria set by the state government, only hawkers who are registered under ULBs are eligible for the help. Also, we are just using a database created for the PM SVANIDHI loan scheme and disbursing aid to all registered vendors and not just to those who have taken benefit of the PM SVNIDHI scheme. Whatever the union is saying that needs to be corrected,” Dr Kullkruni said.

According to the BMC, 1.20 lakh hawkers in Mumbai were surveyed in 2014. Of them, 99,000 had submitted their documents before BMC to prove their eligibility. Subsequently, the civic body said the city has only 15,000 eligible hawkers.

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