Roadside Vendors Incur Loss of Close to Rs 49,000 Crore in Last 36 Days, Hawkers' Body Demands Relief Package

Kolkata: Nearly four crore hawkers across ​the nation have incurred a loss of approximately Rs 48,960 crore out of the total turnover of around Rs 2,88,000 crores in last 36 days of the lockdown, according to data from National Hawker Federation.

The daily turnover of hawkers is around Rs 8,000 crore in India. The loss estimate of Rs 48,960 crore is arrived at by calculating the daily nationwide earnings over the last 36 days while taking into account the average of 15 per cent profit margin in non-consumable goods and 20 per cent margin in consumable items.

General Secretary, National Hawker Federation (Central leadership), Saktiman Ghosh said the figure is based on a nationwide calculation done by the National Hawker Federation committee.

“The National Hawker Federation is an association of street vendors across 28 States in the country, with 1,188 unions, including 11 central trade unions and over 20 international trade unions abroad. We have been working on the rights on street vendors for the past 20 years throughout the country,” he said.

In this situation, too, they are working a war-footing to provide rations to hawkers who are finding it difficult to run their households, he added. Ghosh has also written a letter to Prime Minister Modi on behalf of the National Hawker Federation urging him to announce relief measures for the hawkers and street vendors.

“Since the government announced the second phase of the lockdown till May 3, the problems faced by hawkers, street vendors, migrant workers and other workers of the informal sector have also extended,” he said in the letter.

Given the rapid spread of the coronavirus pandemic across the country, it is understandable that the prime minister took such a step in accordance with the wishes of the experts and chief ministers, the letter added.

It also described the situation as unprecedented and that it is adversely affecting many street vendors working in big cities who are also migrant workers and run the risk of becoming homeless.

If this sect of the population is not helped, it can cause major social unrest in the coming year as the country heads towards a long-drawn economic recession, Ghosh added.

Further suggesting strategies to help the large number of street vendors which includes 10 per cent of the nation’s GDP being, Ghosh in his letter requested a safety net/universal basic income, cash relief of Rs 10,000 for all street vendors.

The lockdown has hit the approximately four crore hawkers – 40 per cent of which are women – who are now struggling to make their ends meet. “I used to sell cosmetics and junk jewellery on a footpath at New Market in Kolkata. But ever since the lockdown was announced, I struggle to arrange ration to feed my family,” Huzaifa, a hawker said.

National Secretary of National Hawker Federation, Asit Saha, said nearly 80 per cent of the population in states like Maharashtra and West Bengal depends on street markets for their purchases, while only 20 per cent visits shopping complexes.