NEW DELHI: The urban affairs ministry has advised state governments to allow identified street vendors to sell essential items during the lockdown, a move which would not only save their livelihood and facilitate supplies virtually at doorstep, but also prevent crowding in markets and thus serve the dire need of social distancing to check Covid-19 spread.
There are about 18 lakh identified street vendors across the country and almost 13 lakh of them have valid identity cards.
Sources said the ministry issued the advisory after the pan-Indian urban vendors’ association approached it citing the plight of street vendors after loss of livelihood due to the nationwide lockdown in the wake of coronavirus spread.
Tweeting the letter sent to states, Union housing urban affairs minister Hardeep Singh Puri said, “In order to ensure the livelihood of street vendors and encourage home delivery of essential items, we have issued an advisory that street vendors carrying valid identity card/ certificate of vending, may be allowed to sell essentials like groceries, fruits and vegetables.”
The minister told TOI that the call has to be taken by the local authorities and the Centre has issued the advisory to protect the interests of vendors. “We have specifically said that identified vendors should be allowed to carry on their business of selling essential items subject to restrictions by the district authorities.”
Currently, only six states and UTs, including Bihar, Odisha, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan and Tamil Nadu, have given one-time financial help to street vendors. Odisha and Bihar have announced one-time financial assistance of Rs 3,000 to each vendor while UP, Tamil Nadu and Rajasthan have announced one-time assistance of Rs 1,000 per vendor.
Sources said as per the advisory, the vendors cannot sell any cooked food and they will be allowed to sell only specific items during lockdown besides ensuring that their carts are clean and they maintain personal hygiene and follow social distancing norms.