It was supposed to be a ‘mini-India’, dishing out delicacies from all states at the heart of Delhi during the Commonwealth Games.
But contrary to the expectations, it’s turning out to be a big disappointment for foodies.
Thanks to last-minute cancellations and non-participation of states, the “Food Street” of Incredible India Festival on Baba Kharak Singh Marg has only 10 states instead of 30, as was the original arrangements made by the organisers.
Delhi’s Chief Secretary and Principal Secretary of Tourism have written to Resident Commissioners of states, requesting their participation. However, most of the states have not turned up.
With most of the 30 stalls empty, organisers are now on the lookout for Delhi-based caterers to make up for the dearth of variety.
“This place does not reflect India’s cuisines at all. They hardly have any variety here. It is
all about chaat and stuff usually available in Delhi,” said veteran food critic Rahul Verma, one of the visitors on Thursday.
With lack of variety disappointing the visitors — stall-owners said the place was receiving a decent number of visitors every day — organisers are now looking for more options in and around Delhi.
Currently, two tiny outlets of Manipur, Nagaland and a large stall from Rajasthan are the main attraction,
besides some other states like Kerala (catered by a Delhi-based caterer), Tamil Nadu and Karnataka.
The state emporiums, which were supposed to bring in chefs and also take some of their merchandise in the open-air stalls and hold live demonstrations of weaving and knitting by craftsmen, have been reluctant to participate. This has left the organisers furious.
Even on the ground, the Delhi emporium is the only one all decked up and looking like part of a festival. For the rest, it is business as usual.
The Central government had earlier sanctioned a grant to states to employ resources to make this festival a success.
“The organisers wanted us to extend work hours of our staff for the festival besides hiring craftsmen for live demonstration. We need to pay extra money to our staff for overtime from sanction coming from our states for this kind of work,” said a senior official of one of the state emporiums.
However, the organisers said they were certain to make alternate arrangements to make up for the losses.
“Those who did not participate in this festival failed to understand the potential of this space. This is drawing a huge crowd every day. We can turn this into a biannual festival,” said Ved Pohoja, who executed the project for Ministry of Tourism.