Vivek Trivedi, 43, Social Development Officer at the Municipal Corporation** Chandigarh, is the man behind the resettlement of over 10,000 street vendors and hawkers operating in Chandigarh since the 90s. By regularising these vendors and giving them licences and specified work spaces, he has been responsible for generating revenues of Rs 24 crore for the cash strapped Chandigarh MC.
An urban and social development expert, Vivek had earlier worked as Project Director with the United Nations Development Program and various social sector organisations of the union government. He is a fellow of the Al Gore Climate Leaders Program and has been an active participant in various social development fora at the international level.
Vivek is also the founder of the Association of Professional Social Workers and Development Practitioners (APSWDP) Chandigarh which is now recommended for UN consultative status. He has won multiple awards including the Hindustan Times Brightest Young Climate Leadership Award 2010 by the British Council, New Delhi. He holds a Masters degree in Social Work and is presently a Research Fellow, pursuing his PhD at the Centre for Social Work, Punjab University, Chandigarh.
Trivedi spoke to Citizen Matters on his department’s efforts in ensuring essential supplies reach the doorsteps of people, especially the poor. Excerpts from the interview:
What are the activities that the department is engaged in at the moment?
This is the beginning of the second phase of the lockdown. We are working with mobile street vendors who have licences. About 150 sreet vendors will be used to supply vegetables and fruits in the city and work under police protection. We have been able to supply fresh vegetables and fruits to the city residents at their homes. Besides, we have engaged Self Helf Groups (SHGs) and area level federations to reach out to the wider communities of women and poor urban families, mainly to produce masks and distribute them along with sanitizers and soap bars.
Besides, we have also got the support of FICCI regional office Chandigarh. Marico has supplied us 800 kg of dried oatmeal which we are distributing in the slums and colonies. We are distributing pre-cooked and ready to eat meals, besides requirements of women and adolescents. We also have a few volunteers who are creating awareness among children on practices like hand washing.
What are the challenges that you face in trying to help the poor and daily wage earners?
There are challenges of course, but the entire Chandigarh administration, all departments, are engaged in this. Work has been distributed to each and every department so that they can take care of areas in their segments. Police are also helping out. People are not working as officers and staff only, but also as volunteers. Our corporation has waived this month’s fee for street vendors as also all the penalties for March. We are also seeing if they can be connected to other livelihood options. It is a big challenge.
How does the system work? For instance, once the essentials go out from your end, who handles it? Is there a work flow or system in place? And how do we ensure that no one is left out in this entire supply chain?
In my department, we have a team comprised of all staffers, and we have taken the help of civil society volunteers who help out with transport and other requirements. I can’t say that for the full city but I can say so for our territory. We work on a house to house basis. Our workers and volunteers visit colonies and announce that people should remain inside as they knock on their doors. I learnt from the polio programme that going house to house was the best way to avoid chaos and crowding. With Covid-19, social distancing is the first thing you need to take care off. So the best thing is house-to-house delivery and house to house surveys and data collection.
You recently got personally involved in helping out a group of Kashmiris who are stuck here and facing a hard time. Can you give some details?
I got a call from Mr. Mahavir of the state legal services society saying that some people from Kashmir were in difficulty and if I could depute someone to provide them relief. I got in touch with the mayor and commissioner. Their main request was of course evacuation, which is not our area, and we asked them to get in touch with the commissioner. But we assessed their needs and provided them basic necessities, especially food. We also provided counselling to them on coping mechanisms, interpersonal relationships and other issues. We also did thermal screening to ensure they were ok. We have also informed the secretary in Kashmir.
Watch the full interview here:
**Errata: The designation of Vivek Trivedi was wrongly mentioned in the first published version of the article. Changes have been made in the text and video to accurately reflect his current designation.