The Maharashtra government told the Bombay High Court on Monday that hawkers will not be allowed to operate in the state as of now, even as it continues to increase relaxations to the lockdown under “Mission Begin Again”, the Hindustan Times reported. The state has the highest number of coronavirus cases in the country.
The government said that hawking and street vending falls under the unorganised sector and would be very difficult to regulate. Huge manpower, including police personnel and civic staff, will be required to ensure compliance of guidelines for hawkers and street vendors, the government’s counsel said, adding that the law enforcement agencies are already overburdened.
Activist Manoj Oswal had filed a public interest litigation in the High Court against the ban, calling it insensitive and unconstitutional. He alleged that the complete ban on the sale of products or food by street vendors violated people’s rights to conduct business activities.
The activist said the nationwide lockdown restrictions have led to serious problems for a large section of the society, including street vendors and traders, who own small unregistered shops and vends. He said these individuals should be allowed to conduct their business “with reasonable restrictions”.
“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,” the petition read. “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.”
As of Monday, Maharashtra had reported 2,76,809 cases, of which 1,48,843 cases are active, according to the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare. The total number of fatalities stood at 15,576. Under “Mission Begin Again”, the Shiv Sena-led government has reopened non-essential shops and establishments, salons, spas, malls and parks, and allowed outdoor gymnastics and sports, home delivery of food from restaurants, and film shootings, with restrictions.