How can we talk of developing Delhi into a city like London in another decade or so without focussing on the planning aspect, the Delhi High Court wondered on Monday while hearing an issue related to unauthorised hawkers and street vendors in marketplaces. The high court, however, said it was aware that hawking provides employment to many, especially from the lower strata of society and a balance has to be made between the rights of people going for marketing, vendors, and those who rent shops.
We talk of developing Delhi into a city like London in another decade or so. How will we achieve that? What happens to the planning aspect? it said. While referring to the situation in Connaught Place and Nehru Place, a bench of Justices Vipin Sanghi and Jasmeet Singh said people can’t even walk in Connaught Place as there are vendors occupying the space which has become a business.
In Nehru Place, you can’t even walk as street vendors have made it their permanent place of business. We had to take suo motu cognisance of a fire incident at Nehru Place. The matter is presently before another bench. The condition of the Nehru Place market is like a slum. The need is to decide on the number of permissible vendors in a particular area while taking into account the plan of the place, the bench said. The court was hearing a batch of petitions relating to challenge to the Street Vendors Act and by street vendors seeking various benefits including regularisation under the law.
Senior advocate Sanjeev Ralli appeared for the New Delhi Traders Association which represents shop owners and operators in the Connaught Place (CP) area, that is, Rajiv Chowk and Indira Chowk. The court has recently directed the removal of unauthorised vendors and hawkers in the Connaught Place and Nehru Place area. The bench said it will look into the challenge to the Street Vendors Act as it was willing to take the bull by its horns.
It said it was conscious that street vending provides employment to many, especially from lower strata of the society and people can buy goods at lower prices, but there is a need to balance the rights of the shopkeepers who pay lakhs of rupees for rent of shops or people who want free access to the market area and of street vendors. The bench said it was against street hawking and that we all have grown up buying from street hawkers, we still go to kirana’ shops, street food vendors for our day-to-day needs.
The bench said people go to malls only for buying high-end clothes and not for daily need items and added that nobody is against street hawkers and both should co-exist and it just want that the city is not unreasonably crowded due to them. The bench said more than 50 per cent of people are representing vendors’ interests on the TVC and added, we know the weakness of our system, unfortunately.
The court listed the matter for further hearing on October 30.