Wednesday, February 9, 2011


Government agencies have a knack in recycling old schemes as new from time to time and here is an example of such approach which was announced by the minister for food processing recently in Rajya Sabha! Street vending of foods is a phenomenon that is common in many developing countries and there is hardly a place in India where street vending is not visible. As early as 2 decades ago efforts were made to make foods offered by the street vendors safe through training and improved infrastructure that would improve the hygiene and sanitation significantly. How ever these efforts were far and few in some places with no national foot print. Unhygienic foods continue to be served and gullible public continue to patronize these road side vending outlets with no sense of fear or reservation. Repeated pleas to create specialized food courts in all towns, especially in tourist places, for small scale food vendors have fallen on deaf ears and the present announcement about "safe food towns" or upgrading street foods will have to be taken with a pinch of salt. The grand declaration does not carry conviction because there is no raod map for achieving the desired result.

"Minister of Food Processing Industries Subodh Kant Sahai has said that his Ministry has mooted a scheme for "Upgradation of Quality of Street Food" for implementation of the 11th Plan period. Replying to a question in the Rajya Sabha recently, he said the scheme is yet to be approved by the Ministry of Finance for implementation on a pilot basis in 11 cities in the Safe Food Town component and 6 cities in the Food-Street Component. He said the outcome of these pilot projects would help the Ministry in implementation of the scheme more effectively in the 12th Five Year Plan (2012-17). Mr Sahai said initial preparatory work had been initiated in 2008-09 for "Safe Food Town" component of the Scheme in 11 cities - Ranchi, Nagpur, Kochi, Ludhiana, Jaipur, Agra, Guwahati, Agartala, Shillong, Panaji and Surat and for "Food-Street" component in Tirupati, Hyderabad, Amritsar, Varanasi, Udaipur and Guwahati".

It was only recently that Chandigarh had the mortification to see its food court, first in the country, becoming a center for undesirable activities, especially during late hours because of gross negligence and mismanagement. The concept of a food court with good common facilities and impeccable hygienic environment is considered excellent because such facilities can ensure use of safe water and supporting facilities for the customers. Those who take up street vending go for it because of limited invest capability for setting up their own facilities in prime areas where crowds congregate and food courts located strategically can rehabilitate these less fortunate entrepreneurs.


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