Shocking repercussions faced by Street Vendors amidst COVID-19 lockdown in India


“Street Vendor” means a person engaged in vending of articles, goods, wares, food items or merchandise of everyday use or offering services to the general public, in a street, lane, sidewalk, footpath, pavement, public park or any other public place or private area, from a temporary built-up structure or by moving from place to place and includes hawker, peddler, squatter. The research paper addresses the existing problems of street vendors in the society and proper mechanisms that to be implemented to make the livelihood of street vendors better. Hence, it is important to address this issue to uphold the rights of the street vendors that are guaranteed under Article 14, Article 19(1)(g), Article 21 and Article 39(a) of Indian constitution. In this research, Socio-legal research methodology has been used and collected both primary and secondary data. This study mainly aims to protect the rights of street vendors and to give recognition in the society by way of repealing and amending the existing laws that are against street vendors. Further, to provide safety to street vendors at the workplace by way of providing suitable suits to wear, implementation of laws that cover regulation for the uplifting of their livelihood, providing separate stalls by the state to street vendors at suitable places to social distancing which helps to curb the situation of difficulties in future regarding the spread of any diseases. Also, these implementations in existing law help to create wide employment opportunities in every state.

Keywords: Street Vendor, Existing problems, Violation of rights, Safety measures, Recognition.


Bellagio International Declaration of Street Vendors, 1995 which recognizes street vendors as an integral and legitimate part of the urban retail trade and distribution system. A street vendor is a person who offers goods or services for sale to the public without having a permanently built structure but with a temporary static structure or mobile stall (or head-load). Mostly, a person who chooses street vending as a profession are the people who are unable to get a formal job, immigrants, forced migration from one place to another, women’s, people who didn’t have proper education and skills etc. Street vending is a great example of self- help initiative but it is considered a nuisance in many existing laws. According to recent surveys in Mumbai, the per capita income of 53% of street vendors is Rs.20 per day and it is categorized as poor and vulnerable by the National commission for enterprises in the unorganized sector (NCEUS). They are heavily dependent on the money and often remain in the debt trap and have to pay high interest to the money lenders. Therefore, the Government of India is highly responsible to provide a viable solution to poor street vendors. [i]


  • Section 5- This section focuses on the rights of the street vendors and also gives various and their conditions of vending.
  • In section 5(1)a- This section states that every street vendor has the right to carry on business of street vendors himself or through any of his family member
  • In section 5(2) – Every street vendor shall give an undertaking to the town vending committee prior to the issue of certificate of vending under section 4 of this very act.
  • He can carry on his business of street vending for himself or through any of his family members.
  • If one of the street vendors dies while issuing a certificate of vending or in case he suffers from any such disabilities than he one of his family members can vend in his place till the validity of the certificate exists.[ii]


  • Corruption by authorities: Street vending act, 2004 is empowerment for street vendors. But, the evictions and harassment or exploitation to the street vendors in the market continues. There is no proper genuine implementation of the act in all the states by the municipal authorities because they will lose bribes from the street vendors. Also, the police officials are highly involved in the collection of bribes from the poor street vendors. They have no other place to sell their goods rather than giving bribes to the authorities.
  • Fear of street vendors: street vendors are often screened for poverty. They are regulated by the municipal authorities and do not protest in fear of losing their livelihood. They are having family and children who depend on them, therefore they are not willing to protest for any violation of rights against municipal authorities in fear of losing that day’s income.
  • Lack of awareness about the Act: Street vendors have no awareness about the Act created for their empowerment and street vending is legal now. They are unaware of their rights and how to use their rights. They are not much educated to apply to municipal authorities and police officials due to any evictions or harassment.
  • Lack of collective action: Street vendors don’t have a union to protest against the municipal corporation for any violation of rights. If any of the street vendors joined together the problem of unawareness will be tackled and the power of unity will help them to carry out protests. The awareness of spreading the rights of street vendors under the Act and stopping giving bribes to police officials will be upheld.


  • In chapter VIII under section 12 of the street vendors act, 2014 gives the vendors the right to carry on the business of the vending activities by maintaining the certificate and the mentioned rules of the certificate.
  • This section also prohibits a vendor from parking his vending carriage in a non-vendors zone.
  • Under section 13 the street vendor has a right to get a new site or area in case he possesses a certificate and under section 18 he can get a new space as determined by the local authority.
  • The vendor also has a duty to remove the goods and wares that he places on a day to day basis.
  • Under section 27 any vendor who has a genuine certificate such street vendor is protected from harassment of police.


  • As we know that about 4 crore people in our country India has been involved in street vending services, either selling on streets or in small towns, metros, across the school streets. Therefore, the most affected part of business is the one dealt by street vendors and hawkers. When the Lockdown was announced in March by the honourable Prime Minister Narendra Modi the news came as a big blow on the face of the street vendors.
  • Many of the street vendors are migrants and do not have particular homes and therefore they usually fill their stomach by selling their goods on a daily basis. In the process of lockdown they are hopeless as they are stranded in different cities and also that no one is able to purchase materials from them.
  • For instance, Kolkata, Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra are the most affected cities where the street vendors are in a large number such as the ones who usually tend to feed the office goers, the school kids, complexes and due to the lockdown they are penniless.
  • Kolkata approximately has more than 2.75 lakh vendors in it and thus it has been shut. Farmers are left with fresh food yet no one can purchase them.
  • The rate of supply is now less than the rate of demand as there is less money to purchase and then sell to the people. The vendors are suffering the most at this point.
  • The street vendors are affected and most of them are harassed to leave their places but hardly have a place to go.
  • The vendors who usually sold different goods now prefer to sell vegetables as it is most sold out during lockdown.
  • The women vendors are usually affected as they are evicted from their rented homes, they have no place to go and are on the streets as the most vulnerable part of the society.
  • Many of them chose to walk back to their native homes even though lockdown existed. As they came to understand the fact that the lockdown will eventually lead them to nothing in terms of cash.
  • They are at large risk of enduring the disease while they stayed in the open.


  • The finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman had stated in her announcement about the rescue package that has been bought by a budget of 5000 crore credit facility that will be given to 50 lakh.
  • Free food grains supply to all migrants for 2 months, 5 kg wheat rice for per person, 1kg Chana per family.
  • The Central government has also provided rental housing for migrant workers.
  • Two lakh crore of concessional credit boost will also be provided to 2.5 crore farmers.


  • This scheme was launched by ministry of housing and Urban Affairs in May 2020.
  • The Prime Minister after listening to the issues and visually seeing how vendors have been the most affected in the society had taken up steps to help them. This scheme was introduced in March 2020.
  • Its main objective is to provide the working capital loan to Rs10,000 at a subsidised rate of interest to the street vendors.
  • This scheme is made valid till March 2022 by the ministry and the vendors will be able to apply for this scheme which becomes repayable in monthly instalments within a year
  • The repayment of loan, an interest subsidy of 7% per annum will be credited to their Bank account
  • This scheme also allows the increase in credit facilities on early repayment of loan and also make himself eligible for higher amount of term loan such as Rs.20,000
  • Insurance cover of Rs50 Lakh per health worker.
  • Gas cylinders, free of cost, provided to 8 crore poor families for the next 3 months.[iii]


As India is battling with Covid-19, the most affected people after the announcement of lockdown is the general local street vendors, hawkers, retail shop owners and the farmers. The shocking news of lockdown in the month of March left the street vendors in a miserable and devastating position. Where many migrant street vendors walked all the way back to their homes not fearing Covid-19 as they did not have any other place to go. Their food stalls, shops, goods stayed put in the hope of customers buying them but none were fulfilled. Many of them still chose to place their stalls yet their stalls were dismantled by the police. Although, the above stated repercussions caused life taking risks for these vendors the Central government after seeing the status came out with new schemes and allotted them with credit facility, places to stay and also food to eat. Therefore, Indian Government has definitely acted as a life saver for these street vendors but will it work in the right way for all of them is still the big question.


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