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Implementing the Street Vendor’s Act


Ten years have passed since the enactment of the Street Vendors (Protection of Livelihood and Regulation of Street Vending) Act on May 1, 2014, representing a significant milestone following nearly four decades of legal discourse and the dedicated efforts of street vendor movements across India. Initially hailed as a progressive legislation, the Act now encounters numerous challenges in its implementation.


  • GS2- Government Policies and Interventions
  • GS-3- Inclusive Growth

Mains Question:

Celebrated as a progressive legislation at the time of its inception, the Street Vendors (Protection of Livelihood and Regulation of Street Vending) Act, 2014 now faces numerous challenges in its implementation. Examine. (15 Marks, 250 Words).

Street Vendors in India:

  • The legislation acknowledges the multifaceted roles of street vendors, estimated to comprise 2.5% of any city’s population.
  • These vendors serve as essential providers of daily services, offering vital links in the food, nutrition, and goods distribution chain at affordable prices.
  • For many migrants and urban poor, vending provides a modest yet consistent source of income.
  • Moreover, street vendors contribute to the cultural fabric of India, with iconic dishes like Mumbai’s vada pav and Chennai’s roadside dosai embodying their significance.

Street Vendors (Protection of Livelihood and Regulation of Street Vending) Act, 2014:

  • The Act was designed to recognize and regulate this reality, aiming to protect and regulate street vending in cities through State-level regulations and schemes, overseen by Urban Local Bodies (ULBs).
  • It delineates the roles and responsibilities of vendors and various levels of government, emphasizing the positive urban role of vendors and the imperative of livelihood protection.
  • Notably, it commits to accommodating all existing vendors in designated vending zones and issuing vending certificates.
  • The Act establishes participatory governance structures, such as Town Vending Committees (TVCs), where street vendor representatives constitute a significant proportion of members, including a mandated representation of women vendors.
  • These committees are tasked with ensuring the inclusion of all existing vendors in vending zones and provide mechanisms for addressing grievances and disputes through the proposed Grievance Redressal Committee, chaired by a civil judge or judicial magistrate.
  • In theory, these provisions set a crucial precedent for inclusive and participatory approaches to address street vending needs in cities. However, in practice, numerous challenges remain in realizing the Act’s vision.

Challenges in the Act’s Implementation:

Administrative Level Challenges:

  • Firstly, on an administrative level, there has been a notable surge in harassment and evictions of street vendors, despite the Act’s emphasis on their protection and regulation.
  • This often stems from an outdated bureaucratic mentality that perceives vendors as illegal entities to be removed.
  • Additionally, there is a widespread lack of awareness and understanding about the Act among state authorities, the general public, and the vendors themselves.
  • Town Vending Committees (TVCs) frequently remain under the control of local city authorities, with limited input from street vendor representatives.
  • Moreover, the representation of women vendors in TVCs is often merely symbolic.

Governance Level Challenges:

  • Secondly, at the governance level, existing urban governance mechanisms frequently lack strength. The Act fails to integrate effectively with the framework established by the 74th Constitutional Amendment Act for urban governance.
  • Urban Local Bodies (ULBs) often lack adequate authority and resources. Initiatives like the Smart Cities Mission, which prioritize top-down policy directives and focus primarily on infrastructure development, typically neglect the Act’s provisions for the integration of street vendors into city planning.

Societal Level Challenges:

  • Thirdly, at the societal level, the prevailing notion of the ‘world-class city’ tends to be exclusionary.
  • This viewpoint marginalizes and stigmatizes street vendors as hindrances to urban progress rather than recognizing them as legitimate contributors to the urban economy.
  • These challenges manifest in city layouts, urban policies, and public perceptions of neighborhoods.

Way Forward:

  • While the Act is characterized by its progressive and comprehensive nature, its successful implementation necessitates support, which paradoxically may require top-down direction and management, initially originating from the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs.
  • However, over time, this oversight should be decentralized to ensure effectiveness in addressing the diverse needs and contexts of street vendors across the nation.
  • Initiatives like PM SVANidhi, a micro-credit facility for street vendors, serve as positive examples in this regard. There is a pressing need to decentralize interventions, bolster the capacities of Urban Local Bodies (ULBs) to plan for street vending in cities, and transition from authoritative department-led actions to inclusive deliberative processes at the Town Vending Committee (TVC) level.
  • Urban schemes, city planning guidelines, and policies must be revised to incorporate provisions for street vending.
  • Furthermore, the Act now confronts new challenges, including the impact of climate change on vendors, a proliferation in the number of vendors, competition from e-commerce platforms, and diminished incomes.
  • To address these evolving challenges, the Act’s broad welfare provisions must be creatively utilized to meet the emerging needs of street vendors.
  • Additionally, the sub-component on street vendors within the National Urban Livelihood Mission must adapt to acknowledge the altered realities and facilitate innovative measures to address these needs.


The experience of implementing the Street Vendors Act underscores the intricate interplay between contested spaces, urban labor, and governance, offering valuable insights for future legislative endeavors and their execution.

May 2024