Instead of aroma of food items, foul smell welcomes the visitors at the Night Food Street set up in Sector 14 by the municipal corporation for catering to the culinary needs of students and the attendants of patients coming to Post Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research (PGIMER). The food street has also failed to serve its purpose of providing food at reasonable rates.
Set up in 2008, the street has eight kiosks, which were allotted through bidding on rental basis.
When a HT team paid a visit to the street for a reality check, the workers immediately started removing the dirty utensils and clearing the garbage piled up around the bins. The bins did not have any covers.
They also started mopping the floors and cleaning the tables to give a spick and span look. Electricity wires were hanging loose, an open invitation to mishap. The washrooms at the street were also in a bad shape and there was no water available. The rate list was also not prominently displayed.
The workers at the eating joints have their own list of grouses. The workers say at times youths high on liquor don’t pay the bill and create a scene when asked to pay for the food. Sometimes, inebriated youths scuffle among themselves.
The visitors had a mixed opinion of the food street. A family present there said, “It has become a venue for drunkards to have food after late night drinking sessions. After 11 pm, it is not a place for families as it turns more or less into a tavern.”
Commenting on women’s safety at the food street, Anupriya (23), a student preparing for competitive examinations, said, “I feel safe and regularly come here to have food. I do not find any problem in the area when it comes to the safety.”
Ram Sharan, an attendant of a patient from PGIMER, complained of overcharging. He said some of the kiosks charged more than the price mentioned on the menu card. “Most of the times, they hand over sweets or chocolates against the balance amount to the customers,” he said.
The visitors feel the prices need to be slashed, saying a parantha which is available for Rs 5-7 at a roadside vendor costs anywhere between Rs 11 and Rs 15 at the street and a customer pays Rs 10 extra for butter. The prices of other food items are also on the higher side.