Right to walk: Give back our public spaces

April 18, 2015 at 1:33 PM | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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HT logoShailaja Chandra | Updated: Apr 14, 2015 23:03 IST

In the name of livelihood, we have destroyed fine walkways that could have easily supported open-air cafes and well-laid out kiosks. (HT Photo)

In the name of livelihood, we have destroyed fine walkways that could have easily supported open-air cafes and well-laid out kiosks. (HT Photo)

The old tug-of-war between vendors and pedestrians has for once swung in favour of citizens, at least in Delhi’s congested Lajpat Nagar market.

The National Green Tribunal (NGT) has directed the removal of hawkers and vendors from all metalled roads — a harbinger of what might be in store for similar markets booming on pavements, usurping motorable roads.

How things have reached such proportions not just in Delhi but also in many parts of Mumbai and other cities of India is a story that bears telling.

In 2010, the Supreme Court had directed that a law should be enacted balancing the needs of ordinary citizens and those of street vendors.

The case was Delhi-specific and only involved the Municipal Corporation of Delhi and the New Delhi Municipal Committee. The SC juxtaposed two fundamental rights conferred by Article 19 (1) (d) and Article 19 (1) (g) of the Constitution, the right of commuters to move freely and use roads without any impediment and that of hawkers, squatters and vendors to carry on hawking.

The SC wanted two apparently conflicting rights to be “harmonised and regulated by subjecting them to reasonable restrictions under a law”.

Cleverly using this opportunity, a partisan law which gives elected vendors a major say in deciding its implementation, seeks to protect them to the exclusion of the common man.

The law came into force in May 2014 and as could be expected was in the name of the poor.

But the crucial point that remains unanswered: Is the regulation of street vending purely a livelihood issue or whether it is also a municipal zoning issue? Can a citizen’s right to regulated public space be transferred to one body of citizens by marginalising the majority?

The biggest weakness of the Street Vendors (Protection of Livelihood and Regulation of Street Vending) Act 2014 is the use of the Concurrent List of the Constitution to enact a central law, ostensibly to protect livelihoods.

This when Parliament had been repeatedly told by the government “street vending is a state subject and the central government does not have the mandate to enact legislation on street vending”.

Under the new law the obligatory functions of the municipal local bodies have been put in deep freeze giving them the perfect alibi to abandon even what little they and the traffic police were doing to safeguard right-of-way for pedestrians and motorists.

The new Act is totally in favour of vendors. It is hazy on principles and does not specify how the vending zones are to be decided or how the number of vendors determined.

As of now different states and municipalities are at different stages of formulating rules, conducting a survey of vendors, seeking fresh applications and establishing the Town Vending Committees (TVCs), the fulcrum on which the new law rests.

Until all this falls into place — which could take years — the law expressly directs that no vendor is to be touched or moved. Many parts of Delhi and suburban Mumbai are badly clogged by hundreds of vendors who have spilled over from the footpaths on to main roads.

Municipal commissioners of three major city corporations lamented to me that the vendor representatives had been given 40% reservation on the TVC and can easily out-voice the official nominees. The largest stakeholder — the general public, which constitutes 99% of the users of public spaces — is represented by a sole nominee from a single RWA.

Astonishingly, the Act specifies a vendor population norm of 2.5% of the population for every municipal ward — a benchmark that is irrational for a country of the size of India, having an enormous floating population and wide variations between and within individual cities.

While the need for protecting poor vegetable sellers, street food hawkers and weekly markets is understood and must be welcomed it certainly does not hold true when it comes to extensive road space colonisation that is taking place in the name of poverty.

Vendors in Connaught Place in New Delhi have already usurped upward of 300% additional space over the original permitted conditions. The so-called “poor” had years ago swapped their permits for money, every square foot in the area being among the costliest in the world. Traders who purchased the allotment from once poor vendors now hire casual labour to hawk winter jackets, T-shirts and shorts, grabbing more and more pavement space each passing day.

The once prestigious Regal-Rivoli corner and the head of Janpath is now berth for some 1,000 vendors, itinerant hawkers and beggars.

If anything negates the concept of Incredible India and Swachh Bharat, it is this spectacle. In capital cities across the world, urban design focuses on maintaining the character of the city centre and its heritage buildings. Here in the name of livelihood, we have destroyed one of the finest walkways that could easily have supported open-air cafes and well-laid out kiosks promoting authentic Indian handicraft.

The vendors’ protection law is impractical and has paved the way for the triumph of bedlam. Until every ward has non-fungible spatial norms with vending slots allotted, leaving reasonable walking and driving space, matters cannot improve. Governments have repeatedly failed to protect the citizens’ rights and safety.

Now the NGT has started bringing some order into the prevailing chaos, more power to its elbow. The sooner the public gives its full-throated support the better.

Double tragedy for Uttar Pradesh farmers

April 14, 2015 at 7:47 PM | Posted in TV Show | Leave a comment

headlines_todayHeadlines Today | April 13, 2015

Farmers in Uttar Pradesh reeling under debt due to crop loss following unseasonal rains have been handed over cheques of Rs.75 and Rs.100 as compensation.

Click for play video

Click for play video

Guests: Shailaja Chandra (Former Secretary, Delhi Govt.) ; Gaurav Bhatia (Samajwadi Party), Davinder Sharma (Expert, Food Security) and Anchor: Rajdeep Saradesai, Consulting Editor.

I come in at 12.28 minutes.

Sarokaar – India’s healthcare challenges

April 7, 2015 at 7:45 AM | Posted in TV Show | Leave a comment

rjtvPublished on 6 Apr 2015

सरोकार-भारतीय स्वास्थ्य सेवाओं की चुनौतियां

Every year, 7th of April is celebrated as the World Health Day. In this edition of Sarokaar we try to explore the various health related concerns faced in India and how have we fared in tackling public healthcare.

A cursory look at the available data regarding healthcare suggests that a lot still needs to be done. A worrying rate of infant/maternal mortality, the swine flu outbreak, casualties due to Japanese Encephalitis, deaths from vaccine preventable diseases, poor or lack of medical equipment, etc. draws our attention to the reality which leaves a lot yet to be covered in terms of healthcare.

Public healthcare in India is still riddled with problem areas which need to be looked upon before it can be effective and available to all. Large population in our country is still deprived of quality and affordable healthcare.

Watch Sarokaar with eminent panellists bringing out various facets of the issue.

Guests: Shailaja Chandra (Former Secretary in the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare) ; Prof. K Srinath Reddy (President, PHFI) ; Dr. Vandana Prasad (National Convener, Public Health Resource Network) ; Nitin Sethi (Associate Editor, Business Standard) ; Kanwar Singh Tanwar (MP, BJP & Member, Standing Committee on Health and Family Welfare)

Anchor: Amrita Rai

I come in at 9:42 Minute, 20:31 Minute, 26:30 Minute, 33:10 Minute, 40:16 Minute, 44:05 & 49.44 Minutes.

IAS officer Ashok Khemka too unrelenting for governments to tackle?

April 3, 2015 at 11:17 AM | Posted in TV Show | Leave a comment

ndtv_logoPublished on 2 Apr 2015
प्राइम टाइम : ईमानदार अफसरों के दिन नहीं बदलते

Prime Time, a discussion on the BJP governments move to transfer Ashok Khemka to archaeology and museums department from the current transport department that he is in. The IAS officer has been transferred multiple times during his career and had claimed victimisation by the previous government of Congress for having cancelled land deals of Congress Chief Sonia Gandhi’s son-in-law Robert Vadra. We ask – is there no space for honest officers in our system? (Audio in Hindi)

Click to see video

Click to view video

यह बात सार्वजनिक रूप से जाहिर नहीं है कि खेमका के तबादले में सिविल सर्विसेज बोर्ड की कोई भूमिका रही है या नहीं लेकिन एकाध बार को छोड़कर उन्होंने कहीं टिक कर काम नहीं किया। करने नहीं दिया गया। केंद्र के कार्मिक मंत्रालय ने जनवरी 2014 में नियम भी बना दिया कि आईएएस आईपीएस और आईएफएस की पोस्टिंग कम से कम दो साल की होगी। सरकार बदलने से ईमानदार अफसरों के दिन नहीं बदलते। इनका इस्तेमाल विपक्ष में ही ज्यादा अच्छा होता है। ऐसा ही मामला हरियाणा के ही संजीव चतुर्वेदी का है। 5 साल में 12 तबादले हुए हैं।

Guests: Shailaja Chandra (Former Bureaucrat) ; Narendra Taneja (BJP) ; Sanjay Singh (AAP) ; P.C. Parekh (Fmr.Coal Secretary) and Ravish Kumar, Anchor .

I come in at 16:46 minutes

Ashok Khemka transferred again: Does the BJP have double standards on corruption?

April 3, 2015 at 10:34 AM | Posted in TV Show | 4 Comments
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ndtv_logoPublished on 2 Apr 2015

Haryana IAS officer Ashok Khemka is transferred again, this time by the BJP government. As Mr Khemka tweets his distress, does the BJP which once attacked the Congress for a witch-hunt against the IAS officer have double standards on corruption?

Guests: Shailaja Chandra (Former Bureaucrat) ; Kirit Somaiya (BJP) ; Aarti R. Jerath (Senior Journalist) ; Shehzad Poonawala (Congress) and Nidhi Rajdan, Anchor .

I come in at 6:01 minutes

Governance at a standstill: Has the Aam Aadmi Party let down Delhi voters?

April 1, 2015 at 8:23 AM | Posted in TV Show | Leave a comment

ibnlivePalki S Upadhyay, CNN-IBN | Mar 30, 2015 at 10:49pm.

After the high drama ouster of Yogendra Yadav and Prashant Bhushan from Aam Aadmi Party’s National Executive and allegations of hooliganism leveled against the supporters of Kejriwal inside the national council meet, AAP on Sunday released the video of party chief Arvind Kejriwal’s speech.

Click to see video

Click to view video

Guests: Shailaja Chandra (Fmr. Chief Secretary, Govt. of Delhi) ; Aarti mehra (BJP) ; Sharmistha Mukherjee (Congress) ; Atishi Marlena (Senior Journalist) and Anchor: Palki

The Big Picture – Rape documentary: Attitudes and challenges

March 8, 2015 at 9:41 PM | Posted in TV Show | Leave a comment

rjtvPublished on 4 Mar 2015 Rajya Sabha TV | RSTV

Rape documentary: Attitudes and challenges

Guests: Ved Marwah (Former Delhi Police Commissioner and former Governor) ; Shailaja Chandra (Former Chief Secretary, Delhi) ; Shilpi Jain (Lawyer) ; Vrinda Gopinath (Journalist and Editor of Altgaze.com)

Anchor: Girish Nikam

Air date: March 4, 2015

Hindi News Bulletin | हिंदी समाचार बुलेटिन – Mar 02, 2015 (7 pm)

March 6, 2015 at 11:44 PM | Posted in TV Show | Leave a comment

rjtvPublished on 2 Mar 2015 Rajya Sabha TV | RSTV

Hindi News Bulletin | हिंदी समाचार बुलेटिन – Mar 02, 2015 (7 pm)

Guests: Shailaja Chandra (Former Secretary, Ministry of Health, Government of India)

Air date: Published on 5 March 2015

Nirbhaya case: Should the documentary’s broadcast be stopped?

March 4, 2015 at 9:39 PM | Posted in TV Show | Leave a comment
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ibnliveCNN-IBN | Published on 3 Mar 2015

After furor over the interview of one of the convicts in the 2012 Nirbhaya gangrape case, the Home Ministry is in damage control mode. Mukesh Kumar, who is on death row in the rape case, showed no remorse for the rape during the interview he gave to British filmmaker Leslee Udwin.

Guests: Smt Shailaja Chandra, Ex-Chief Secretary, Delhi Govt. ; Sh. Vikram Singh, Ex DGP, UP Police; Sh. Sanjay Srivastava, Sociologist ; Sh. Aakar Patel, Journalist ; Sh. Ashok Pandit, Filmmaker and Anchor: Palki.
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The Big Picture – AAP’s promises: The new challenge

February 13, 2015 at 6:59 AM | Posted in TV Show | Leave a comment

rjtvPublished on 11 Feb 2015

Guests: Saurabh Bharadwaj (MLA, AAP) ; Ved Marwah (Former Commissioner, Delhi Police) ; Shailaja Chandra (Former Chief Secretary, Govt of Delhi) ; Ajay Shankar (Former Special Secretary, Ministry of Power, Govt of India)

Anchor: Girish Nikam

Air date: February 11, 2015

I come in at 14:10 Minute, 19:36 Minute & 28.08 Minutes.

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