The COVID-19 pandemic and the resultant lockdown led to the closure of all markets in Manipur as a measure to curb the spread of the disease. The world has been crying ever since the virus emerged in Wuhan, China. Today, we have almost adapted to a new normal and slowly coming back to life.
While we are all busy taking care of ourselves and following the norms to stay safe and away from the virus, the street vendors or the daily bread earners have been struggling for a place to earn their living. Migrant workers who had been working at different places to earn are left helpless almost to the point that some have returned to their native places with no means of earning. The struggle is real for them to feed their families as COVID-19 threatens their livelihood.
Since the PradhanMantri Mudra Yojana (PMMY) is a scheme that has been already launched for the vendors, there was a requirement to look after the welfare of the street vendors without licenses as well. The PMMY was launched by the Hon’ble Prime Minister of India, ShriNarendraModi, on 8th April 2015 for providing loans up to 10 lakh rupees to the non-corporate, non-farm small or micro-enterprises. Under the aegis of PMMY, there are three loan schemes namely- Shishu, Kishore, and Tarun to signify the stage of growth or development and funding requirements of the beneficiaries and also provide a point of reference for the next phase of graduation/ growth.
Therefore, there was an urgent need to provide credit for working capital to street vendors to resume their businesses. With a view that improvement in rural economy is the key to enhancement of overall economy of the state, the Chief Minister of Manipur, Shri N Biren Singh had been taking a keen role to look after the economic needs of the state. In Manipur, there is a marked difference between market vendors and street vendors: those outside the purview of license holders are referred to as street vendors or hawkers, and even though they are granted legal status by the municipalities, street vendors are liable to face more harassment from the authorities, unlike the licensed market vendors.
Implementation of the PM-SVANidhi scheme for the street vendors by the state government will go a long way in reviving and boosting the economic activities and financial condition of the state and more particularly, the large section of the vending community, who are mostly women. The state government has started providing loans to the street vendors to bail them out of the financial crisis they had faced due to the global pandemic and help them bring back to normalcy.
The PM-SVANidhi is a Central Sector Scheme launched by the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs on 1st June 2020 to provide affordable working capital loans up to 10,000 rupees with a 1-year tenancy to street vendors to resume their livelihoods that have been affected due to Covid-19 lockdown. The loan will be repaid in monthly installments and no collateral will be taken by the lending institutions.
The scheme is available to street vendors engaged in vending in urban areas as on or before 24th March 2020. One should possess a certificate of vending or an identity card issued by Urban Local Bodies (ULBs). Vendors from rural/ peri-urban areas/ city dwellers who have returned to resume their business after leaving the urban areas due to the pandemic are eligible for the scheme’s loan fulfilling the eligibility criteria. Digital platforms with a web portal and mobile application have been developed to ensure fast and transparent implementation of PM-SVANidhi.
Under the PM-SVANidhi scheme, the Chief Minister of Manipur has disbursed loans to 368 beneficiaries/ street vendors on 25th August 2020. Including 16 beneficiaries from Hill Districts, the Chief Minister has also disbursed loans to 449 regular licensed vendors along with loans under the PMMY scheme.
Covering 24 urban local bodies of Manipur, the Chief Minister had again disbursed loans to 803 beneficiaries/ street vendors for the second batch of the PM-SVANidhi scheme.Under the PMMY scheme, the Chief Minister had disbursed loans to 466 regular licensed vendors and other micro-business units including 5 beneficiaries from the Hill District Headquarters.
In Manipur, a total of 5,354 vendors have been benefitted so far under PM-SVANidhi and PMMY schemes. The state government has set a target of extending assistance to a total of 20,000 street vendors who had been vending in urban areas on or before 24th March 2020 under the PM-SVANidhi scheme. Currently, Manipur is ranked first among the Hill and North Eastern States category in implementation of PM-SVANidhi for the highest number of loans disbursed to date.