Change rules to liberalise informal sector, demands NGO

February 25th, 2009 - 12:48 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Feb 25 (IANS) One of the hottest topics of discussion these days is the effect of the global meltdown on the common man. Juxtaposing these challenges with that of those working in the informal sector, an NGO here has released a study illustrating the difficulties that the latter have been facing for years.
Taking five specific professions of the informal sector - barbers, cycle rickshaw pullers, dhaba owners, meat shop owners and vegetable vendors - as examples, the Centre for Civil Society has studied the various livelihood regulations that have acted as barriers for people in these professions across the country in 63 cities.

“The main aim of this ‘livelihood regulations report’ is to draw attention towards the rules of law that are applicable to the people of these professions and suggest amendments regarding the same,” said Parth J. Shah, president of the Centre for Civil Society, at the launch of the report here late Tuesday.

“For instance, in Delhi it is illegal to rent a cycle rickshaw. Going by that, the owner has to be the driver of the rickshaw. But that is not necessarily true. The high and the mighty who have the right ‘connections’ with the municipal officials run the business and charge a high daily rental from the rickshaw pullers.

“Now, if renting a rickshaw is made legal, the entire nexus will dissolve and the poor rickshaw pullers can rent a rickshaw on a minimal rent - for example at the rate of Rs.10-15 per day instead of Rs.30 that is generally the trend now,” Shah told IANS.

Getting a licence for setting up a barber shop, a meat shop or a rickshaw is also a challenge.

“Procuring a licence is not an expensive affair, nor is the renewal fee. But it is a laborious task and very time consuming- on top of that these people have to pay the ‘hafta’, an illegal fee to the cops and goons of the area.

“Therefore most decide that instead of waiting for so long to get a licence, they might as well pay the ‘hafta’ and set up the shop. The municipal bodies should therefore make the process easier for these people and also spread awareness regarding the same,” Shah said.

Another suggestion that Shah has is that property rights of hawkers and vendors be recognised.

“If you are driving without a licence, you are fined. But if these people don’t have a licence, their goods are taken away. That’s not fair. Just like our houses and cars are not taken away from us if illegal, these hawkers and vendors’ should also be only fined if seen not adhering to rules,” he said.

“The hawkers, vendors and others of the informal sector have been living under the same licence quota rules of the British Raj period. And while the formal sector has been liberalised, the informal sector has not.

“We are in talks with the urban development ministry with regard to these rules and the recommendations and are hoping for a positive response,” Shah added.

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