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Wednesday, June 16, 2021

Mumbai: Traders accuse hawkers of violating norms, illegally doing business

The Azad Hawkers' Association, one of the representative organisations of Mumbai’s over one lakh street vendors, meanwhile, wrote to BMC on Wednesday demanding that street vendors be allowed to resume operations.

Written by Sanjana Bhalerao | Mumbai |
June 4, 2021 12:11:32 am
From June 1, under the state government's ‘Break the Chain’ initiative, BMC has permitted non-essential shops to operate between 7 am and 2 pm five days a week on either side of a road on a rotational basis on alternate days. (Express Photo: Tashi Tobgyal/Representational)

The Federation of Retail Traders Welfare Association (FRTWA) on Thursday wrote to BMC Commissioner Iqbal Singh Chahal alleging that hawkers are violating lockdown rules by illegally carrying out their trade.

“Hawkers at certain areas like Dadar West have occupied both sides of the footpath. We understand that shops are allowed only one side to ensure no crowding takes place, but hawkers have complete freedom to do business everywhere and in complete violation of social distancing and protocol during the lockdown,” FRTWA wrote to Chahal.

The Azad Hawkers’ Association, one of the representative organisations of Mumbai’s over one lakh street vendors, meanwhile, wrote to BMC on Wednesday demanding that street vendors be allowed to resume operations.

From June 1, under the state government’s ‘Break the Chain’ initiative, BMC has permitted non-essential shops to operate between 7 am and 2 pm five days a week on either side of a road on a rotational basis on alternate days. However, street vendors and hawkers have not been permitted to conduct business.

Hawkers’ unions have been demanding that all street vendors be allowed to ply their trade between 7 am and 2 pm.

“Currently, only vegetable and fruit vendors are allowed to function. We have written to the municipal commissioner to allow all street vendors to resume their businesses,” said Dayashankar Singh, president of Azad Hawkers’ Association.

As per a survey conducted by BMC in 2014, there are 1.2 lakh hawkers in the city. However, street vendors are still an unregulated sector, with only 15,000 licensed hawkers in Mumbai.

Last August, the state had told the Bombay High Court that it has no plans to permit street vendors to conduct business amid the pandemic because it did not have the capacity to regulate their work.

But many vendors, who have no other source of income, resumed their trade anyway only to be forced to discontinue from April this year. “I am back at work again because I have no other choice. I wear my masks properly, follow social distancing norms, why shouldn’t I be allowed to do business? I am just hoping that consumers are back on the streets,” said Vijay Kumar, who sells cellphone accessories near Goregaon station road.

Meanwhile, Hotel and Restaurant Association of Western India (HRAWI) on Thursday written to Chahal requesting that standalone restaurants and bars as well as those inside hotels be allowed to re-open. It has also requested the commissioner to extend the operation timing of restaurants till 11 pm. At present, hotels and restaurants are permitted home delivery and take away services.

“The industry’s revenue at the beginning of 2021 was below 20 per cent of pre-pandemic days. Since April, it hasn’t even touched 5 per cent of the pre-pandemic levels. Each lockdown extension is costing the industry massive losses. No data or study has shown that Covid-19 is spread at hotels and restaurants,” said Sherry Bhatia, president of HRAWI.

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