Since its inception, NASVI has built strong organizations of street vendors across Indian cities. NASVI faced wide range of changes in political economy and policy environment in enabling the street vendors their rights and entitlements. Large scale coming together of membership organizations of the poor enabled NASVI to trigger the process of organizing and simultaneously raise the pitch of advocacy with urban local bodies, state governments and national government. Process of organizing also capacitated the vendor organizations to move courts to reclaim their rights and entitlements. Many judicial announcements came up in favour of street vendors.
With the nationwide mobilization of street vendors the Government of India to brought in National Policy for Street Vendors in 2004. It was revised later in 2009. The National Policy 2009 gave visibility to vendors’ issues and vendors’ organizations started mounting pressure on municipal bodies to implement policy in letter and spirit. The implementation of the 2009 policy has not been satisfactory with only few states like Madhya Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, and Orissa taking initiative for the implementation of the policy.
Due to the failure in the implementation of the National Policy 2009, the conditions of the street vendors were deteriorating with several cases of human rights violations of the street vendors all over India. NASVI then decided to initiate efforts for the enactment of a Central law for street vendors.
In 2010-11, NASVI Rath Campaign for policy implementation and law making yielded results in several states and Rajasthan, West Bengal, Jharkhand, Bihar and Uttarakhand Governments enacted laws/policies/Rules in favour of street vendors.
October 2010 verdict of Supreme Court of India came as a shot in the arm for NASVI. The Apex Court said in its verdict t that the vendors had fundamental right to carry on their businesses under Article 19 (1) g of the Indian Constitution and the said right must be protected by a law. The apex court directed the appropriate government to enact law for vendors by 30 June, 2011.
In the month of October 2010 the Supreme Court of India gave a verdict in Gainda Ram and others vs. M.C.D and others in which the Honorable Supreme Court of India laid down that the vendors had fundamental right to carry on their businesses under Article 19 (1) (g) of the Constitution of India and the said right must be protected by a law. The apex court directed the appropriate government to enact law for vendors by 30 June, 2011.
NASVI then met the ministry of Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation (MHUPA) to press for the enacting a central law. Also in the mean time NASVI members met Mirai Chaterjee for her suggestions as to how to proceed further for the the law. She suggested approaching NAC.
Accordingly NASVI team approached NAC and proposed the agenda for the law in front of the working Committee of NAC. In the full house meeting of NAC, Soniya Gandhi was also present where the agenda from NASVI for enacting a central law for street vendors was discussed and Mrs. Soniya Gandhi showed a positive response.
On 24th November, 2010, a ten member NASVI delegation also met Kumari Selja, Minister of Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation and put forth the demands.
The major initiatives taken-
Post cards campaign- During the period February and March 2011, NASVI did post card campaigns. Around 1 lakhs post cards were published and sent to Minister of Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation, Kumari Selja demanding a central law for the street vendors.
NASVI took up the issue of central law with UPA President Sonia Gandhi led National Advisory Council (NAC). It raised the pitch of its campaign both on advocacy front and on streets. The NAC deliberated on the issue in its several meetings. In May, 2011, it recommended for a central law to the Government of India.
In the month of June, 2011 vendor organizations across India posted memorandum to the then Prime Minister of India stipulating commencement of the process for law making in the early hours. In this regard, hundreds of petitions/memorandum was sent to the Prime Minister Office.
On 14th July, 2011 a protest was held in 30 cities across India to mount pressure on the government to instigate process of law making. Inspite of all these efforts there was no response on the part of the government in making a central law. So there was a need to take some larger action and NASVI members along with street vendors decided to gherao the Parliament of India.
In the month of August the Parliamentary session was going on and on 8th August thousands of street vendor gheraoed the parliament demanding central law.
Finally there was a response from the ministry and a meeting was held to discuss in this regard and the meeting was attended by a 7 member NASVI delegation and they presented a 10 point Charter of Demands. The minister agreed that the problems of vendors could only be solved through a law. In the meeting it was decided that the opinion of the Attorney general is to be taken in this regard. The Ministry of Law sought the opinion from the Attorney General of India. The Attorney General gave his opinion in favor of central law for street vendors in November, 2011.
In the mean time many post card campaigns and press releases were made by NASVI. On 19th November, 2011 a huge national convention of street vendors was organized in Delhi wherein MHUPA Minister Kumari Selja announced that the government would bring in central law for street vendors.
The process of preparing a draft bill was brought to action and finally a draft bill was prepared which was approved by the law ministry on July 2012. Subsequently in the month of August the Union Cabinet also approved the Bill.
On 6 September, 2012, the Bill was introduced in the Lok Sabha. The Bill had many key provisions enabling vendors to get access to rights and entitlements, but also had several shortcomings. When the street vendors came to know about the shortcomings, they raised their voices and points of amendment to the Bill.
Subsequently, the Bill was sent to the Standing Committee of the Parliament. In November and December, 2012, NASVI presented its concerns and points of amendments to the Bill before the Standing Committee. On 13th March, 2013, a huge Street Vendors Parliament took place in Delhi. On the day, the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Urban Development tabled its report on the floor of the houses.
On 1 May, 2013, NASVI organized ‘Dialogue of Street Vendors with Political Leaders and Civil Society Representatives to Convert Street Vendors’ Bill into Act’ in Delhi. On the day, the union cabinet approved the revamped Street Vendors Bill. In 2013 August, the street vendors across states again sent thousands of postcards and letters to the Congress president and the UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi urging her to ensure the passage of the bill.
In the month of August 2013, again the street vendors across states sent thousands of postcards and letters to the Congress president and the UPA chairperson Mrs. Sonia Gandhi urging her to ensure the passing of the bill. On 6th September, 2013, the bill was passed by Lok Sabha. The period following the passing of the Bill by Lok Sabha was very much tough and decisive.
To ensure the passage of the Bill by Rajya Sabha NASVI left no stone unturned and continued its campaigning and agitation with the same momentum and vigour.
- On 31st January 2014, a huge ‘Rehri Patri Sansad’ was organized by NASVI at Jantar Mantar in Delhi which was addressed by the then chief minister of Delhi Mr. Arvind Kejriwal.
- Demanding passage of the bill by the Rajya Sabha thousands of street vendors had also marched to the residence of Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi On 3rd February, 2014.
- An open letter to the heads of political parties was also released by NASVI urging them to ensure that the bill is passed by the Rajya Sabha.
- NASVI delegation also called on Lok Sabha speaker Meira Kumar, BJP leader Rajiv Pratap Rudy and minister of youth affairs and sports Jitendra Singh urging them to ensure passage of the bill.
The most significant efforts-
NASVI along with the street vendors were the indefinite hunger strike at Jantar Mantar in Delhi on 16th February, demanding the passage of the bill. Thirty street vendor leaders across cities started their fast which continued for four days. Thousands of street vendors reached the venue of the fast in support of the fasting street vendor leaders.
The extensive efforts undertaken by NASVI along with thousands of street vendors from across the country was finally answered on 19th February 2014 when Rajya Sabha passed the Bill. The Act received the assent of the president on 5th March 2014 and came into force on 1st May 2014.