No hawkers in Maharashtra as of now: State reiterates it’s stand before HC

The Maharashtra government has reiterated its stand before the Bombay high court (HC) that it cannot allow street vendors and hawkers to resume their businesses because of the raging coronavirus disease (Covid-19) outbreak.

In an affidavit filed in HC, the state government has stated that street vendors and hawkers would not be allowed to resume businesses in containment zones and areas that are still under lockdown restrictions

They will also not be allowed to resume businesses in other areas as well. “… these sectors (street vending and hawking) fall in unorganised sectors and it is very difficult, if any and if at all, imposed for conducting such businesses,” said the affidavit filed by Kishor Nimbalkar, secretary, disaster management, relief, and rehabilitation department, Maharashtra.

Huge manpower, including police and civic staff, would be required to ensure compliance of guidelines issued for the conduct of these businesses and the ground reality is that all these agencies are over-burdened and exhausted, it added.

The affidavit is filed in reply to a public interest litigation (PIL) filed by activist Manoj Oswal (43) for a declaration that the imposition of the complete ban on the sale of products or food by street vendors to be illegal or unconstitutional and violative of the rights of the people to conduct legitimate business.

In his petition, filed through advocate Ashish Verma, the Pune-based activist said the nationwide lockdown restrictions have led to serious issues for the survival of a vast section of the population, including street vendors and traders, who own small informal shops and vends, and the only possible relief for them is that if they are allowed conducting their daily business with reasonable restrictions.

Oswal has termed the state government’s stand as “extremely high-handed and insensitive.” “The assumption that the street vendors can cause more Covid-19 infections than the store or shop owners is not supported by science or findings by any research,” his petition stated “Merely because these people are poor, they are being treated as more infectious and responsible for causing infections. This is a clear prejudice and nothing else,” it added.

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