The health and administrative authorities of Kapurthala district are turning a blind eye to what is happening at eateries outside the Phagwara bus stand. While hygiene norms are given the go-by, adding salt to injury are the high prices being charged from the customers.
Most of the vendors and dhabas are defying all the norms and guidelines of the Food Safety and Standards Act by selling uncovered food items and without wearing gloves on their hands.
A visit to the bus stand shows that inferior and sub-standard junk food items including paranthas, samosas, kulchas, pakoras, burgers and noodles kept in unhygienic conditions and kept uncovered are up for sale.
Passengers have lodged complaints against fleecing and unhygienic food being sold, but no action has been initiated. Sources said the authorities are being paid to allow this monopoly to continue, and most constabulary cops are being served with food free of cost at the dhabas to ensure inaction on their part.
It has been learnt that vendors and dhaba workers cook food items using sub-standard oil without following cleanliness and safety standards and norms, resulting in passing on of several diseases to the consumers.
Regular passengers revealed that dhabas and vendors outside the bus stand are looting customers without any fear of the authorities. They said that in absence of rate list board at dhabas or with vendors, owners are over-charging for food items.
"I was being forced to pay `100 for just one parantha (stuffed bread), at one of the dhabas outside the bus stand," said a passenger. Numerous passengers are facing harassment every day and shelling ridiculously high amounts.
Dr Balwinder Singh, district health officer (DHO), Kapurthala, said he had recently joined the office and would take note of it.
"I will visit the place and take food samples from the vendors to ensure sub-standard food is not sold there," he said.
Phagwara Mayor Arun Khosla said he would ask the department concerned to take action against the vendors who are defying the rules and are selling food items at a hefty premium.
Meanwhile, more than 30 vendors have been doing brisk business outside the bus stand for the last many years while selling fruits and other daily food items to passengers passing through the busy highway. The civic authorities have failed to keep a check on it all.