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Street Vendors Act

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A decade has passed since the Street Vendors (Protection of Livelihood and Regulation of Street Vending) Act came into effect on May 1, 2014, marking a significant milestone after nearly four decades of legal jurisprudence and the tireless efforts of street vendor movements across India.

Celebrated as a progressive legislation, the Act now faces numerous challenges in its implementation.


Street vendors, estimated to constitute 2.5% of any city’s population, play multifaceted roles in city life.

  • Local vegetable sellers and food vendors are essential providers of daily services.
  • Vending offers many migrants and the urban poor a source of modest yet consistent income.
  • The vendors also make city life affordable for others by providing vital links in the food, nutrition, and goods distribution chain at reasonable prices.
  • Street vendors are also integral to Indian culture.


  • It aimed to ‘protect’ and ‘regulate’ street vending in cities, with State-level rules and schemes, and execution by Urban Local Bodies (ULBs) through by-laws, planning, and regulation.
  • The Act clearly delineates the roles and responsibilities of both vendors and various levels of government.
  • It recognises the positive urban role of vendors and the need for livelihood protection.
  • It commits to accommodating all ‘existing’ vendors in vending zones and issuing vending certificates.
  • The Act establishes a participatory governance structure through Town Vending Committees (TVCs) and mandates that street vendor representatives must constitute 40% of TVC members, with a sub-representation of 33% of women street vendors.
  • These committees are tasked with ensuring the inclusion of all existing vendors in vending zones.
  • Additionally, the Act outlines mechanisms for addressing grievances and disputes, proposing the establishment of a Grievance Redressal Committee chaired by a civil judge or judicial magistrate.


  • Challenges at the administrative level:
    • There has been a noticeable increase in harassment and evictions of street vendors, despite the Act’s emphasis on their protection and regulation.
    • This is often due to an outdated bureaucratic mindset that views vendors as illegal entities to be cleared.
    • There is also a pervasive lack of awareness and sensitisation about the Act among state authorities, the wider public, and vendors themselves.
    • TVCs often remain under the control of local city authorities, with limited influence from street vendor representatives.
    • The representation of women vendors in TVCs is mostly tokenistic.
  • Challenges at the Governance level:
    • Existing urban governance mechanisms are often weak.
    • The Act does not integrate well with the framework established by the 74th Constitutional Amendment Act for urban governance.
    • ULBs lack sufficient powers and capacities.
    • Schemes like the Smart Cities Mission, laden with resources and pushed through as policy priorities from the top-down, mostly focus on infrastructure development and ignore the provisions of the Act for the inclusion of street vendors in city planning.
  • Challenges at the societal level:
    • Prevailing image of the ‘world class city’ tends to be exclusionary.
    • It marginalises and stigmatises street vendors as obstacles to urban development instead of acknowledging them as legitimate contributors to the urban economy.
    • These challenges are reflected in city designs, urban policies, and public perceptions of neighbourhoods.


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