More than 3000 street vendors marched in a protest rally this morning, from Chandrashekhar Azad Maidan to Freedom Park. As they marched they shouted slogans such as “Badavara hotteyamele hodeyabedi” , “Beedhi vyaapaarigala ettangadiyannu sahisuvudilla” , “yeardu side car parking allow maado sarkaara beedhi vyaapaarigalannu eeke etthutteera” and other slogans. The rally then reached Freedom Park.
A public meeting was held at Freedom park. Addressing the gathering, AICCTU State President Adv.S.Balan condemned the police for violating the street vendors law and evicting vendors in violation of the law. He also demanded that the state government set-up a welfare board exclusively for the welfare of street vendors. Speaking Next, Prema, a street vendor and leader from Kaverinagar described how 40 street vendors have been evicted by BWSSB and the police in their area and how this has caused immense financial hardship to these vendors. She said that till they are all allowed to vend in their original place, they will not stop agitating. Geeta Bai, a vendor and leader from Chamarajpet spoke of how women vendors get sexually harassed by members of the public in the evening and night and demanded a safe working environment. The secretary of the Bruhat Bangalore Beedhi Vyaapari Sanghatanegala Okkoota, Rangaswamy C E spoke next and demanded that the state government provide provide basic facilities – drinking water, toilets, godowns, shelters from rain and sun in all street vending markets.As the meeting was progressing, the state government represented by Shri Ramalinga Reddy called us for a meeting. Seven representatives from the federation met the minister and apprised him of the street vendor evictions in Rajajinagar, Koramanagala, Hosur road and other areas. To this, the minister responded by assuring us that he would set up a meeting with the Mayor, the BBMP Commissioner, The Police Commissioner and the Traffic Commissioner. He was also briefed about the loss of livelihoods to vendors, wholesalers and farmers that will be caused by the central government’s decision to open up Retail (food) to 100% FDI and allowing super-markets and Malls to be open 24*7. Responding to this, the minister assured us that he will discuss this with the Chief Minister and the government would soon call us for a meeting on the same. On the assurance of the minister, the agitation was called of for now. Later, speaking at Freedom Park, the Vice-President of the Federation S.Babu said that if our problems are not resolved through the planned meetings, we will have no option but to go on a indefinite fast.
Demands from the state government are – 1)The state government must put pressure on the central government to ensure that the modifications to the Shops and Establishments act must be put on hold. These modifications, if allowed at the centre must not be implemented in Bangalore. 2)The state government must ensure that the central government’s decision to allow 100% FDI in retail sales of food products must be reversed. 3)The government must give an assurance to the vendors that they will not be evicted and that all evicted vendors must be allowed to vend in their earlier place. That an order be passed stating that the street vendors act not be violated by the BBMP and Police officials. This order must be followed by the authorities. 4)BBMP advocates must be briefed on the Street Vendors Act and the responsibility of ensuring the rights of Street Vendors. 5)The government must train its officials – BBMP officials, BBMP advocates, Police and others of the street vending law and the importance of street vending 6)The budget of 2 crores that has been set aside for street-vending in this years BBMP budget must be used to provide basic facilities – drinking water, toilets, godowns, shelters from rain and sun in all street vending markets. 7)Street Vendors must be provided with welfare measures similar to other unorganized sector workers 8)The Draft Rules (Karnataka) for the Street Vendors Act must be issued in Kannada and the Street Vendors across the state must be consulted before this is finalized. 9)Street Vendors selling food items must be allowed to operate their carts till 1am, as is done with pubs and hotels. This will help several workers and out-of-town travelers who come into the city..