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Street Vending: Pakka Legal! – A comic about the Street Vendors Act, and their right to livelihood

Be it Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai or Bengaluru, streets in any Indian city will not be the same without our vendors. It is because of the low-cost access to goods and services provided by street vendors that cities become more affordable for working and middle classes. They are the eyes and ears of any street, making our urban spaces more inviting, safe, and distinct. Worldwide, street vending is a critical part of any urban economy and cultural landscape. In India, not only does street vending provide jobs to crores of people, especially migrants to cities, but also indirectly generates jobs in both formal and informal sectors.

However, our streets are contested spaces. There are differing views competing with each other on what should be the nature of our cities’ streets, who can and should occupy them, and how they will be shaped in the future. In this context, street vendors in Indian cities are a much persecuted lot, and face challenges from different quarters. Recognising this harassment faced by street vendors, the Supreme Court of India pushed for a landmark central legislation to protect the rights of street vendors. And this resulted in the Central Government introducing the ‘Street Vendors Bill’ in Lok Sabha in 2012, which was passed in 2014. Thus, the ‘Street Vendors (Protection of Livelihood and Regulation of Street Vending) 2014 Act’ came into force from 1 May 2014.

Like many other laws in our country, this law is not accessible to the very people whose rights it seeks to protect — the street vendors. Understanding the law is the first step toward being vigilant and participating in its implementation. This graphic booklet is an attempt to take that first step, an attempt to explain a few important aspects of the law in an accessible manner, using the visual medium. This comic is thus intended to act as a resource for all street vendors and street vendor support groups.

Download here.