Wayanad: Kerala high court stops National Highways dept from evicting rural street vendors

WP(C) 17377/2018 Recently the National Highway department started forcefully evicting rural street vendors working beside the NH 766 in Wayanad district in Kerala. The authority had issued a notice to the poor rural street vendors only three days prior to the drive and subsequently evicted 56 bunk shops, resulting in a serious violation of their right to livelihood.   Advocates from HRLN’s Wayanad unit appeared on the behalf of these vendors in the Kerala High Court and succeeded in obtaining a stay order on the forceful eviction by contending that the stores had been the vendors’ single means of livelihood for the past 20 to 25 years. During the first appearance itself, a single bench of the HC directed the National Highways department to stop demolishing the petitioners’ structures. Following this, our advocates are now being approached by even more street vendors with the same prayers. We note that while there are a number of legislations, schemes, and Supreme Court judgments protecting the rights of street vendors in urban areas, no such protections have been made available for rural street vendors. Today, almost 3,000 street vendors face a serious threat to their right to livelihood in Wayanad District only. The situation is just as bad elsewhere in the state, but we aspire to stand by the rights of the aggrieved and fight for them.