Following a High Court order, the NDMC and the police are in the process of evicting “illegal encroachments” from Sarojini Nagar market. An NDMC official said the process began mid-September and is ongoing.
Many vendors have not been allowed to set up shop while hawkers are being asked to leave.
On Tuesday afternoon, the market bustled with activity. Around 450 shopkeepers are authorised and 150 ‘pathris’ are allowed to sell items inside the market. The actual number of hawkers and vendors is higher.
For those who are not authorised, survival is a task. Gudiya (35) has been a mehendi designer at the market for as long as she can remember. Originally from Rampur in UP, she came to Delhi in search of a job when she was a girl. She said, “Of late, the traders do not allow me to set up my stall outside their shops anymore so I sit outside the market.”
She said that in the last few years, mehendi design has not been in demand and ever since the onset of the pandemic, she has started selling cloth masks instead. She makes between Rs 100 and Rs 200 a day and has three sons at home. She is the sole earner in the family. She says there are many other shopkeepers who are unauthorised. But shopkeepers retaliate saying that they are not supposed to allow vendors in front of their stores.
Vijay Ruhella, Secretary (Delhi Pradesh), The Hawkers Suraksha Foundation All India, said that according to law, town vending committees should be formed, which will be entrusted with the duty of assessing who is authorised, and a survey should be conducted before eviction.
The Delhi Street Vendors (Protection of Livelihood and Regulation of Street Vending) Rules, 2017, which prescribes the ‘manner of evicting a street vendor’, states, “no street vendor must be evicted from the site of vending without prior notice, completion of registration process and formulation of a rehabilitation plan.”
Ashok Randhawa, president of the Sarojini Nagar Mini Market Traders’ Association, said, “We are not against anybody’s livelihood. All we want is for the shoppers to have space to walk. We are trying to keep social distance in mind as well. We have no objection to a rehabilitation plan by the NDMC.”
He said that there are around 450 shopkeepers in the market and over 2,000 hawkers.
The NDMC official said that they will follow the High Court order and rehabilitate all the vendors in the NDMC area eventually. No plan has been made yet, but they will start working on it soon.