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Extortion - the three way squeeze on street vendors & hawkers

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Governance

Hope you all read about the BBMP councillor extorting Rs 15000 / month from an eatery at Kalasipalya. Here is the news report in DH. I cross checked to find same version in Hindu also, so its not a one off tabloid type story:

Channegowda said in his complaint that Avvayi collected a ‘mamool’ of Rs 500 from him every month ... On Monday morning, Avvayi allegedly came to his hotel and demanded that he pay a lumpsum bribe of Rs 35,000 for the entire year as she could not come every month for the paltry sum of Rs 500. Channegowda had not paid the ‘mamool’ of Rs 500 for November ... During ... meeting with Avvayi, he negotiated and brought down the amount to Rs 20,000.

Shameful, obviously. But I hope newspapers won't continue to ignore this "source of revenue" for primarily three groups that extort 'illegal' or street vendors. If you can talk to street vendors and get them to open up a bit, you will figure that they pay varying amounts of sum to:

  • BBMP
  • One local thug, who "allots" or "preserves" space on the street for the vendor
  • Local cops

Frequency of collection ranges from weekly to daily. Any journalists reading this, I strongly encourage them to do their bit to bring this to light. I have asked 3-4 hawkers, that is too small a sample size to draw firm conclusions from.

How to manage this situation - should street vendors be allowed to block footpaths or not - is a slightly different, but related topic. Another of those urban planning situations that are unique to our cities and don't have a ctrl-C from west ctrl-V here solutions.

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psaram42's picture

It is in TOI also

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I know police constables collecting money [Bakshis] from regular [not way side] shops. Similarly all foot path venders also are a source of income for the powers that be.

This story is like the goose and the golden egg. Killing the goose to get more is foolishness of course. For the TOI story Click here  [1]

 

silkboard's picture

rough numbers - Rs 13.5 Crores / month, Rs 27K / person

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Lets do some math based on approximations.

Assuming total numbers in of such vendors and hawkers to be 2x number of autos in Bangalore. 90K x 2 = 1.8 Lakh.

  • 1.8 lakh guys to extort
  • BBPM 'guys' - Rs 300 Rs  / month (taking lower value than 500 mentioned in this news article)
  • 'Local Cops' - Rs 50 / week =~ Rs 250 / month
  • Local 'thug' - Rs 200 / month (supposedly more 'considerate', take less money than other two)
  • All added, Rs 750 / month.
  • 1.8 lakhs x Rs 750 = Rs 13,50,00,000 = Rs 13.5 Crores / month

Now, let us assume that all combined, 5000 people are sharing this booty

  • Rs 13.5 Crore divided by 5000
  • Rs 27000 / month for each person

Not bad for side income? However, the sharing may not be even across all involved, and numbers have heavy approximations.

silkboard's picture

Just checked, anyone else willing?

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Just checked again last evening with one 'street vendor'. "rates" vary, but payouts continue. Also, this this guy said that 'cops' are not as regular as local guys when it comes to collection.

Hey - really keen to check with 4-5 vendors on four corners of the city to check if these "things" and "amounts" are true. I will do five on whitefield side. Anyone else keen to join in?

silkboard's picture

Thanks The Hindu - Pub owners confess, BBMP worse than cops!

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From The hindu, Jan 15 2013, page 4, "Cup of woe is full for Pub Owners".

The Police are the least of their worries: they have to pay BBMP and Excise officials as well.

Well, most street vendors too pay BBMP (based on anecdotal checks, needs to be proven through a proper survey). But notice the amounts.

"The actual fee is ... 25000, I have to pay an additional Rs 40000 to the BBMP official to renew it", says a pub owner in Indiranagar.

Reporter Sudipto Mondal reports that this is a "well oiled machinery".

A "Cheetah" constable comes around 7 pm, and another at midnight. Each has to be paid Rs 50. The Hoysala van comes once a week and returns richer by anything between Rs 200 and Rs 500. the jurisdictional police station is paid between Rs 10000 and Rs 15000 per month. Not to forget the spot bribe of Rs 2000 if the police find some over enthusiastic customer standing and swaying to music during a surprise check ..."

See, who said the police is not well organized.

Thank you The Hindu for deciding to report this. Let us wish that every newspaper wakes up and reports such things that are "take for granted" and thus not reported as if these were the facts of city lives that we just have to life with.

 

silkboard's picture

30 Cr per month - extortion economy estimates so far :)

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50-100 per week by local cops is what I got from 3 street vendors. Numbers in Hindu report say Rs 50 per day, and then weekly and monthly numbers.

BBMP "numbers" too are lot lower for street vendors :) So good to see some 'consideration' and 'conncessions' here.

Now, assuming 10000 pubs/restaurants serving licenses in Bangalore, and taking slightly lower numbers than in this news report:

  • BBMP guys get 40K per year
  • Cops "make" 10K per month, appx ~ 120K per year
  • Local Goons amounts unknown, put 2K per month = 24K per year
  • So total appx 40+120+24 = 184K per year per such business
  • 184K x 10K such businesses = easy 184 Crores per year

184 Crore per year, or 15.3 Crores per month, Add numbers estimates from street vendors, which was 13.5 Cr per month. Both add up to appx 30 Cr per month of extortion economy estimated so far.

PS Is all this "harassment" less worthy of Lokayukta et al's time? Sadly, we all like going after and discussing the big fishes and big names. Absolutely the wrong approach.

Bangalore is Mine's picture

Things will not change. Community need to take charge

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Lets face it. All these estimates are good for analysis, but what what can we do about it. The collections are too tempting for the munipal authorities/ Cops to give up.  Do not expect change

Hence, if we are at their mercy to ensure law enforcement, you can imagine the state of affairs in the future.

I have stated this in the previous forum and I am stating it again, only community patrolling is the way to ensure violations and crimes are in check. Communities need to be empowered to take direct action against violations being seen.

If this goes unchecked, can you imagine how your city will be in the next 3-5 years time????..

I am an bangalorean, who has lived in Mumbai. I have seen how cities go through 'steady' degradation.

Lets stop asking what this city can do for us and instead, what we can do for this city (and our children)

Can we form groups and take direct action? we can chalk out a strategy. All this , within the purview of law

 

Regards

Vimal

psaram42's picture

Law enforcement

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Bangalore city consists of all who live in there.  As such our concern is about law makers becoming the law breakers apart from hard core criminals.

“Young lawmakers are more prone to breaking laws. Mind you, 30.4 per cent of MPs between 36 and 45 years, who have been elected to the 14 th Lok Sabha are facing criminal cases in different parts of the country. And 18.3 per cent of them are facing grave charges, a report by Social Watch India says.” Click here [1] and here [2]

A thousand years ago, during the early experiments with modern democracy, the republican-minded citizens of Pisa leaned towards a concept called podesta in their consular form of government. A podesta was a citizen of another city, so that he wouldn't have any local ties of affinities that affected his impartiality. The podesta enjoyed considerable powers, but was elected for six months and could not leave the city at the end of his term without a rigorous scrutiny of his judgments and his accounts.

That's a scenario in which BJP MP Babubhai Katara and those of his criminal ilk couldn't have survived. But in a millennium of evolution, where we have twisted and mangled the Westminster model, such people are allowed to thrive and flourish. Our Parliament and assemblies are often packed with people who have scant respect for the mandate given to them and the responsibilities of holding public office. With aplomb, they turn their privileges into tools of trade and conduct corrupt businesses from the very offices created to guard the rights of citizens. Click here [3]

silkboard's picture

back to being specific

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Okay, whether we can directly think of doing anything about it or not, I think getting main stream media to write specifically about this more and more would be good. Let us at least start talking numbers, and hopefully, soon some names as well.

I hope some other readers here would go out, ask around and get some numbers and specifics of this organized "extortion" business.

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