A survey on street vendors conducted by a five-member student team from IIT Delhi has revealed a host of problems the vendors face.
The team surveyed about 40 vendors in the Vijay Nagar and Nandgram areas in Ghaziabad over a period of 10 days, from December 21-December 30, 2016.
It was found that exploitation and low earnings were the primary causes of their problems. The study revealed that competition for higher incomes and a constant struggle to be more accessible to commuters led vendors to inch towards the centre of the road as the day progressed. This gradually led to traffic congestion.
The report also exposed the exploitation and financial coercion that vendors had to face while conducting daily business. The report revealed that much of this was due to the inaction of government agencies.
“Most vendors were apprehensive about speaking out," said Arpit Jain, one of the students. "We found that they had to give up a part of their daily income to certain people who came to collect money from them on a regular basis. Many of the vendors chose to keep mum about the issue due to the fear that this would affect their livelihood."
The findings of the survey also exposed the failure of the Town Vending Committee (TVC) of the city, which had been formed under the Street Vendors (Protection of Livelihood and Regulation of Street Vending) Act, 2014.
One of the main objectives of the TVC was to locate all vendors, create identity proofs and allot spaces for them, ensuring that the process was conducted smoothly.
"Nearly 95 per cent of the vendors had no clue about TVC and its functions,” said Aakash Bhat, another member of the surveying team.
“The vendors also said they had to pay shop owners if they placed their stalls or kiosks in front of their shops," said Jain. "The shop owners force them to pay up, even though the space does not belong to them. They even threaten to allow those vendors willing to pay up to use the space.”
The project was undertaken by the students as their PESR (Professional Ethics And Social Responsibility), which is part of their course. It was conducted under the aegis of "Rashtriya Sainik Sanstha", an NGO of civilians and ex-servicemen. The students are pursuing their BTech at IIT Delhi.
Speaking to City Spidey, Colonel Tejendra Pal Tyagi (Retired), chairman of Rashtriya Sainik Sanstha, said he had already forwarded the findings to the Nagar Nigam and the district magistrate's office. "Although the survey was conducted on a rather small sample group, it reflects the overall reality on a larger scale," added Tyagi.
The students who conducted the survey expressed interest in conducting a similar survey on a larger scale.