Tuesday, May 28, 2024

Paul’s relocation statement leaves hawkers ‘confused’


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By Our Reporter

SHILLONG, May 6: The recent statement by Social Welfare Minister Paul Lyngdoh about the relocation of over 200 hawkers in Khyndai Lad to the Meghalaya Urban Development Authority (MUDA) complex has left the vendors “confused”.
While some are oblivious to the announcement, others appear either perplexed or indifferent.
Shane Thabah, general secretary of the Meghalaya & Greater Shillong Progressive Hawkers & Street Vendors Association, criticised the minister for creating this confusion at a time when a survey by the Town Vending Committees (TVCs) is underway.
In November last year, the Shillong Municipal Board (SMB) had stated that the state government, along with the TVCs, are preparing city/town street vending plans to demarcate vending and no-vending zones.
“The scheme outlines a fair and transparent allocation process for vending spaces, ensuring accessibility without discrimination, and it also has health and safety guidelines which a street vendor must follow to prioritise public well-being,” the SMB had stated.
Thabah stressed the importance of including vendors in the decision-making processes and respecting established regulations.
“How can one just relocate the hawkers when it is a TVC which can give licenses and regulate street vending? I request the government to also include us in their decisions to make sure we are all on the same page. The places they want to clear are heritage markets and have been there forever,” he said.
The move aims to decongest Khyndai Lad and convert the spot into a tourism hub by making a permanent stage for the artistes to perform.
Thabah urged Lyngdoh to refrain from unilateral declarations, particularly concerning heritage markets, which have been integral to the community for generations.
A hawker, who has been selling clothes on the GS Road for a decade, expressed ignorance, stating, “Every three months, we hear a new date. It is May now but nobody has communicated anything to us. I don’t know if I’ll be relocated or not.”
Another hawker, who travels from Smit to sell fruits, remarked, “What relocation? I have no clue.”
She highlighted the plight of the hawkers as they struggle to make a living.
Although Lyngdoh mentioned identifying and relocating 200 hawkers, the Meghalaya Street Vendors (Protection of Livelihood and Street Vending) Scheme of 2023 mandates a transparent identification and registration process by the respective TVCs. Specific criteria have been outlined for street vendor identification.
Earlier, the government had planned to relocate the hawkers by June, 2023.


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