The resistance from BMC employees to receive hard copies of documents submitted by the general public during the Covid-19 pandemic is likely to cause over one lakh street vendors in Mumbai to loose out on availing benefits of Union government’s credit loan scheme.
Last month, the Union Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs had announced a scheme to provide affordable loan of up to Rs 10,000 to more than 50 lakh street vendors across the country, who lost their livelihoods after the country imposed the lockdown on March 24.
The Centre, on May 20, wrote to all states and Union territories, seeking a list of such hawkers with details like Aadhaar card, PAN card and bank account number, so that the loan amount can be transferred directly.
Following the ministry’s letter, the BMC’s license department wrote to all the 24 wards in the city to compile such lists within 15 days. The civic body, as part of its survey conducted under the Street Vendors (Protection of Livelihood and Regulation of Street Vendors) Act, 2014, identified one lakh hawkers in Mumbai. It recorded details like Aadhaar card, PAN card and addresses of the hawkers but not their bank account numbers.
To take advantage of the scheme, registered hawkers have to provide their bank account details to ensure that the money gets directly deposited in their accounts. However, as these details were not submitted, hawkers have been making a beeline to BMC ward offices to submit the same.
Civic officials, however, have declined to receive any documentation from the general public due to the pandemic.
Hawkers said that when they visited the local ward offices to submit bank account details, civic officials refused to accept the same on the ground that since due to Covid-19, its dispatch section was not accepting any documents.
AITUC Hawkers Union has written to Municipal Commissioner Iqbal Singh Chahal and Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray in this regard. “Since the ministry has said that all surveyed hawkers will get benefits, BMC should set up a mechanism to collect bank details of all hawkers, irrespective of them being eligible or not. It should create a website where hawkers can submit their details if they are not accepting documents. The BMC’s decision will leave many hawkers out of the scheme,” said Syed Haider Imam, general secretary of the union, who is also associated with National Hawkers Federation that had demanded relief for street vendors.
“If municipal staff is busy then the civic body can take help of members of central and zonal town vending committees to collect bank account details. If the list is sent to the ministry without bank account details, the whole purpose of helping the street vendors will be defeated,” he added.
Narendra Gosavi, who has been hawking for around 25 years near Kamgar Nagar in Kurla East, said: “After lockdown, for the initial two months, I managed to run my family. But now my savings are over. For there is no income about two-and-half-months. I have a family of 13 people to feed. At this time, Rs 10,000 will help a lot. But I am not sure how I will get it, as BMC is not providing our bank details to the government.”
Deputy Superintendent (License) Neela Patange admitted that they have made a list of hawkers without collecting their bank account details. When asked how these hawkers will get benefits without bank account details, she said:
“Our job was to compile a list and send it to the directorate of municipal administration with a no objection certificate stating that these hawkers can avail the benefits. They will look after the bank account details of the hawkers.”
However, Pandurang Jadhav, Director of Directorate of Municipal Administration, said the issue will be rectified “at a later stage”. “I was not aware that BMC has already started the process of collecting data of hawkers. Recently, we have got guidelines from the central government and soon we will frame a scheme. If there is any problem, like what the union is saying about bank account details of hawkers not being collected, then it can be rectified at a later stage,” he said.
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