Thursday, April 18, 2024
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Government yet to regulate street vending in Shillong

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By Our Reporter

SHILLONG, March 2: Rapid urbanisation seems to be doing too little as the Meghalaya government is yet to come up with a street vending policy.
As per the official records, the total number of street vendors within the jurisdiction of Shillong Municipal Board is 1,400 with 432 at Khyndai Lad, 142 at Jail Road, 37 at Polo, 66 at Civil Hospital/Barik areas, 563 at Motphran, 135 at Laitumkhrah and 25 at Laban.
The survey of street vendors was carried out between the period December 4, 2023, and January 16, 2024. However, the number of street vendors on the ground seems to be rapidly increasing.
Albeit without a vending regulation, the state does have a town vending committee for Shillong City constituted on October 13, 2022, which is headed by Chief Executive Officer of Shillong Municipal Board as the chairperson and representative of Traffic Police, District Medical and Health Officer, Meghalaya Urban Development Authority, Khasi Hills Autonomous District Council, representatives from Shillong Roadside Hawkers Association, representatives from Meghalaya Greater Shillong Progressive Street Vendors and Hawkers Association, Greater lew Polo Welfare Association, Khasi Student’s Union (Central Body), Synjuk Ki Rangbah Shnong, Lead District Manager East Khasi Hills District as the members.
It may be recalled that the Street Vendors (Protection of Livelihood and Regulation of Street Vending) Act – which came into force in May 2014 was meant to protect the rights of India’s nearly five million street vendors. But in Meghalaya, they introduced a state-specific Act later in the same year.
Meghalaya was the only state in the country to have a separate state Act for street vendors as a way of controlling this group of workers.
However, after a six-year fight spearheaded by hawkers, activists and lawyers, in August 2022, the Meghalaya government decided to repeal the unfavourable 2014 state Act, and in its place, adopted the central act on hawking and street vending.
As per a 2021 report by the Government of India, Meghalaya is tied with Assam as the fifth poorest state in the country and the poorest state in Northeast.
In this scenario, many people, especially women, work as street vendors to support themselves and their children. At present, the Meghalaya Greater Shillong Progressive Street Vendors and Hawkers Association consists of about 1,500 hawkers, of which more than 80 per cent are women from local Indigenous communities.
Most of these women have received little or no education and many are single parents. They sell products ranging from freshly prepared food items to fruits and vegetables, besides clothes, shoes, utensils and other household items, with daily earnings ranging from Rs 300 to 500 after paying their suppliers.

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