Owners of roadside 'dhabas' (makeshift eateries) in the area are a worried lot these days following the ban imposed by the government on sale of Nestle's Maggi noodles. Earlier they were doing a roaring business but are now seeing a sharp decline in customers.
According to the owners, who were running their business on the roadside or in the middle of the town, the 'dhabas' were hugely popular with students and tourists coming to Kullu and Manali with Maggi noodles particularly in great demand. Many tourists travelling on the road between Nagvain to Manali used to stop for a quick snack, even willing to pay up to Rs 40 for a cooked dish of the noodles otherwise costing Rs 12.
Raju, a street vendor who dishes out "Chinese" food near Baveli, where tourists halt for river rafting on the Beas river, told this reporter he used to earn a decent amount of money from selling cooked Maggi noodles. "Tourists preferred them because they were ready to be served in minutes. I used to earn over Rs 1,500 a day during the in peak tourist season. Now I'm having a bad time as customers have gradually begun to vanish following the government's ban on sale of Nestle's noodles. It's a big blow to my business," he added.
Like him, another street vendor, Pema, a Tibetan, who runs her business in the middle of the town, is also feeling the pinch. "After the ban on sale of Maggi noodles demand has fallen sharply and this has made a huge dent in my earnings," she said.
District health officials have already swung into action and have sent 11 samples of Maggi noodles for lab testing.