Committee formed aiming to give new life to roadside vendors

Chennai: With Velacheri stepping towards development day by day, removal of encroachments is a necessity. On one hand, residents complaining about roadside vendors taking up public space, blocking traffic or creating sanitation problems has become regular in the neighbourhood. And on the other, it is necessary to consider the livelihood of these street vendors who struggle to eke out a living.

The authorities, probably for the first time, have come out with a win-win solution. A recent Supreme Court order made it mandatory that authorities must not just drive away a vendors from their spot but find them an alternate ‘vending spot’ so that his livelihood is not affected.

A committee comprising 15 members, including Corporation officials, a health official, police officer, authorised vendors and a resident representative, met for the first time a week ago. Murali, Executive Engineer of Zone 13, is the Chairman of the committee.

Speaking to this newspaper on how it would function, Assistant Revenue Officer, Banu Chandran, who is also part of the committee, said, “We formed the committee after the Supreme Court direction. Our work is to scrutinise the situation and take a call on which ones should be left as such and which should not be. We have certain priorities: The traffic should not be affected, residents must not face any inconvenience and the livelihood of vendors must not be hampered.”

He also spoke about the various departments involved in the decision making. The Assistant Zonal Health Officer will take a call on the sanitation part.

Officials must look into whether the shops have a drainage system and asses whether there is mosquito breeding issues because of the encroachments. Law and Order and Traffic inspectors give their opinion as well.

To get a ground reality from residents, M Balakrishnan, secretary of Tansi Nagar Welfare Association, is also part of the committee. He is among the four nominated non-political members.

Six elected street vendors – the ones who have identity cards – have also been included. “We have also chosen long-time vendors, including women and a differently-abled person, so that their views are also taken into consideration. If they need any help or a permission to set up a new business they can contact us.”

The committee is in the process of identifying shops located at vending and non-vending locations and scrutinise them. They are also going through various proposals. Residents who have any ideas and suggestions can write to the Zone 13, Vending Committee Chairman.

Naomi N