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Maharashtra: Hawkers seek clarity on assistance offered by state govt amid Covid-19 curbs

On Tuesday, Thackeray had said that with the new curbs being implemented to break the chain of transmission, the state will spend at least Rs 5,200 crore on providing financial assistance to the poor working class.

Written by Laxman Singh | Mumbai |
April 14, 2021 11:22:05 pm
According to the BMC, 1.20 lakh hawkers in Mumbai were surveyed in 2014 of whom 99,000 had submitted their documents before BMC to prove their eligibility. The BMC has said that the city has only 15,000 eligible hawkers. (Representational)

After Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray announced financial assistance for hawkers amid Covid-19 restrictions in the state, hawkers unions said the assistance offered was too little and sought more clarity on the state government’s offer.

On Tuesday, Thackeray had said that with the new curbs being implemented to break the chain of transmission, the state will spend at least Rs 5,200 crore on providing financial assistance to the poor working class.

The state will provide Rs 1,500 to each hawker who is registered with the authorities and whose account number is with a bank under the PM SVAnidhi Yojana. According to Thackeray, at least five lakh hawkers in the state will benefit under the scheme.

“The government should at least give compensation under the Minimum Wages Act which allows minimum payment of Rs 350 per day. But Rs 1,500 comes to Rs 50 to 100 per day. Authorities should also consider that this is the peak time when hawkers get good business. This is the season of flowers, fruits and marriages and festivals like Ramzan,” said Syed Haider Imam, general secretary of AITUC Hawkers Union.

He said the assistance should be given in advance as these hawkers should also get relief in electricity bill and water tax.

According to the BMC, 1.20 lakh hawkers in Mumbai were surveyed in 2014 of whom 99,000 had submitted their documents before BMC to prove their eligibility. The BMC has said that the city has only 15,000 eligible hawkers.

Many hawkers said there is no clarity whether all surveyed hawkers will get benefits or only registered ones.

“The chief minister in his speech said registered hawkers. What does that mean? Are they going to consider all the surveyed hawkers or only those who have licences? In case of licence, only 15,000 are eligible and many of these hawkers will miss the benefit,” said Dayashankar Singh from the Azad Hawkers Union.

He added, “The amount announced by the state is little in comparison to losses these hawkers will face.”

“Barring a few cities like Mumbai, Pune and Thane, most of the major cities in Maharashtra did not conduct surveys of hawkers. This always gives them gray areas as to who to give benefits or not. In PM SVAnidhi Yojana, many hawkers missed the benefit because of this issue,” said Uday Choudhary from the Maharashtra unit of National Hawkers Federation.

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