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SHILLONG: A group of vendors and hawkers of Shillong under the banner Greater Shillong Progressive Hawkers and Street Vendors Association and Tur Thma u Rangli (TUR) on Thursday aired their grievances to the state government following their eviction from GS Road, Them Bijoy by the Municipal Board two months ago.
TUR along with the vendors' association took out to the streets of Shillong on Thursday and held a gathering at Additional Secretariat amidst tight security. Soon after their meeting, the associations submitted their memorandum to the state government demanding the latter to respect their right to life and livelihood and also to direct the SMB and the police not to unnecessary harass and abuse them, physically and verbally.
According to one of the vendors, their business along the footpaths doesn't create any nuisance to the pedestrians as they occupy only a small portion of the space available. "We are not criminals and what we do here is not illegal, but we are trying to earn a livelihood," the vendor said.
During their meeting with Urban Affairs Minister M Ampareen Lyngdoh, the associations apprised the minister of the plight of the hawkers while asking the latter to respect the right to life and right to livelihood. They also raised the issue pertaining to the street vendors (protection of livelihood and regulation of street vending) act, 2014 of the central government and the Meghalaya Street Vendors (Protection of Livelihood and Regulation of Street Vending Act, 2014 of the state government.
Speaking to media persons, Leader of TUR Angela Rangad said that following their meeting with the urban affairs minister, the hawkers will continue to put up their stalls in the busy footpaths of GS Road.
She also said that they have also apprised the state government of the illegalities involved in such eviction drives conducted by the SMB stating that harassing and abusing the hawkers is equivalent to stealing away their right to livelihood, which is against the order issued by the Supreme Court.
Meanwhile, Rangad also mentioned that Meghalaya Street Vendors (Protection of Livelihood and Regulation of Street Vending Act, 2014 of the state government is a very weak act and it doesn't mention anything on protection of these people.
Stressing on the need to form a Town Vending Committee as part of this act, Rangad said that the government should include members of the vendors association in this committee along with representatives from the SMB, government and the police.
"If the government cannot amend this weak act first, it cannot forcefully snatch away the livelihood of these people," said the TUR leader adding that the association will continue to put up their stalls in this area while threatening to resort to other form of agitations if such eviction drives continues henceforth.