Cycle rickshaw pullers and street vendors, who have been barred from plying on metalled roads in the national capital, have moved the National Green Tribunal (NGT) challenging the ban imposed on them, saying any restriction on non-motorised modes will defeat the idea of reducing air pollution.
NGOs Manushi Sangathan and Delhi Shramik Sangathan, representing hawkers and vendors, have filed a petition against a 2015 NGT order that restricted rickshaws and hawkers from using metalled roads.
"An order prohibiting street vendors from metalled roads would defeat the purpose of the Street Vendors Act by allowing it to become a fresh tool of harassment while being far removed from playing any role in cutting down vehicular pollution," the plea said.
The plea contends that India's transportation policy and laws relating to road use were governed by prioritising pedestrians and non-motorised vehicles over motorised vehicles. Hence the latter cannot be given priority over the former vehicles.
"The ban order affects cycle rickshaw pliers and street vendors, but neither they, nor their representatives have not been heard as per principles of natural justice. The order purports to target 'vehicular pollution' but instead targets non-polluters and the vulnerable poor rather than the actual contributors to pollution.
"The order purporting to target 'vehicular pollution' is contrary to various prevailing laws, government policies and settled principles in matters of public interest relating to both cycle rickshaw plying and urban street vending," the plea, moved through advocate Indira Unninayar, said.
The matter is scheduled for hearing before a bench headed by NGT Chairperson Justice Swatanter Kumar on October 19.
In a bid to avoid congestion and ease flow of traffic, the green panel in 2015 had declared that no rickshaw and hawkers would be permitted on the metalled road and said that "the right of the hawkers has been permitted by the Supreme Court in the area beyond the metalled road".
"In the event any vehicle is parked in the central verge or beyond the red line on any of these roads, the traffic police shall take a serious view of the matter and deal with the offender in accordance with law...," the bench had said in its order.
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