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Pune, India using biometric survey to identify illegal vendors


Pune, the seventh largest city in India, has been dealing with illegal merchandise vendors, referred to as “hawkers”, for years. It has become a perennial problem for the civic administration to deal with. The latest measure the city administration has decided to employ to weed out illegal hawkers is to conduct a biometric survey. Fingerprints of hawkers will be captured, along with other data including location for easy identification and GIS mapping.

Though the use of mapping, city officials will be able to obtain details and the location of any hawker. According to city records, there are about 7,224 authorized hawkers operating in the city. But, the number of hawkers that actually operate in the streets numbers over 14,000. With that number, the civic staff finds it difficult to differentiate between legal and illegal hawkers. Biometrics is seen as a means for the city official to verify authorized hawkers and move quickly against those operating illegally.

Rajendra Jagtap, a municipal commissioner of PMC has stated in The Indian Express that: “The civic administration needs to take action against illegal hawkers on a regular basis. Despite being evicted, they come back to the same footpaths and roads. It is also difficult to identify the unauthorized hawkers operating on the city streets.”

Pune’s biometric survey will not only serve to identify and differentiate between legal and illegal hawkers. It is expected to help curb problems associated with licensing.

Pune’s civil administration has found that licenses have been tampered with or issued illegally. Hawkers are counterfeiting licenses issued by the city. Without means of verification, illegal hawkers can get away with it, without facing actions. According to Jagtap, the reason why hawkers never declined in numbers is because: “many hawkers with valid PMC licenses have given up their business and rented out their license to someone else.”

The civic administration has constantly been asked to deal with illegal hawkers by residents because they threaten order and security. There has been a move to zone their location, through the creation of “hawker zones”. That program failed however since as hawkers refused to move for fear of losing business.

With the latest decision, do you think Pune Municipal Corporation will succeed in weeding out illegal hawkers with the aid of biometrics?

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