NAGPUR: A large number of hawkers staged a demonstration on the busy Sitabuldi main road, protesting ‘harassment under the guise of implementing Covid-19 protocol’, on Thursday.
“Both Nagpur city police and Nagpur Municipal Corporation (NMC) are preventing Sitabuldi hawkers from running their business,” Sitabuldi Hawkers Welfare Association president Gopi Bhaurao Ambhore said.
Senior police inspector from Sitabuldi Atul Sabnis had on June 1 prevented hawkers from operating on Sitabuldi main road. “Hawkers have been running businesses on Sitabuldi main road for several years. They put up their stalls like any regular day on June 1. At around 1pm, Sabnis approached the hawkers, asking them to produce guidelines issued by NMC regarding allowing hawkers to do business,” said association secretary Durgadas Kewalramani.
The hawkers claimed that street vendors from the entire city were being allowed to do business. Citing examples, they claimed that when vegetable vendors and hawkers in Sakkardara, Jaripatka, Khamla etc. are allowed, “why only we are being prevented from earning our livelihood”.
The senior PI stopped hawkers from vending on Wednesday too.
A delegation of hawkers also met Dharampeth zone assistant municipal commissioner Prakash Warade. He clarified that NMC won’t allow Sitabuldi hawkers to operate since no guidelines have been issued regarding hawking business. Subsequently, the hawkers staged a silent sit-down protest to draw attention of the state government, and allow them to earn a livelihood.
“Hundreds of street vendors from Sitabuldi have been badly impacted due to the lockdown like restrictions to contain the spread of Covid-19,” said hawker Sandip Sahu. “We are into the second month of lockdown from April 5, and hawkers here have not been able to earn a livelihood. We have absolutely no other means to feed our family,” he said.
The hawkers claimed that not allowing vendors to do business is also a violation of the Street Vendors (Protection of Livelihood and Regulation of Street Vending) Act, 2014, which guarantees hawkers can continue activity till they are relocated.
“Since non-essential shops have been allowed to operate we should also be permitted for vending,” said the hawkers.
Ambhore pointed out that last year after the lockdown was lifted and non-essential shops were allowed to operate, our members were also permitted to resume their business activity. “However, for no reason, the same is not being followed this year, which has resulted in critical condition of our members and families.”
He further said until they get permission, the association will continue with their silent protest.