After a delay of almost four years, the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) has finally decided to open a cafeteria at Qutb Minar, a World Heritage Site.
Qutb Minar attracts about 10,000 tourists, including a sizeable chunk of foreign nationals, per day on an average. The number goes up on Sundays and public holidays. However, for a few years, there has been no cafeteria or canteen at the World Heritage Site.
In the absence of such a facility, tourists were forced to make do with either roadside eateries near the makeshift bus stop nearby or high-end restaurants about half a km away. The proposed cafeteria will be located next to the cloakroom in the ticketing arena, right across the entrance to the monument.
"The idea is to have a facility for tourists outside the monument, but very near. The ticketing area and the parking lot next to it, makes it an ideal place," said a senior ASI official.
The cafeteria kiosk will sell only pre-cooked food, bottled drinking water and other packaged drinks. "This is to discourage any kind of cooking activity in the vicinity of a World Heritage Site and maintain a basic hygiene standard," said Basant Swarnakar, who heads ASI's Delhi circle.
Despite the availability of RO-based drinking water inside the Qutb Minar complex, visitors, especially foreigners still prefer bottled water. "That is one of the reasons why we are allowing bottled water too," he said.
However, the officials could not explain the reason for the delay of almost four years. ASI's Delhi circle head, who has taken charge recently, expressed ignorance as to why the earlier officers had not taken up the work.
The ASI has already floated an Expression of Interest (EoI) for the facility. The firm to run the kiosk/cafeteria would be finalised soon, the officials said.