While the residents of Amritsar take delight in savouring all kinds of good food, a 'lollipop' offered by the government in the form of a proposal for setting up a food street in the city has begun to leave a bitter taste in their mouths as the project has failed to take off.
The proposal to set up a food street on the lines of the one in Lahore was initially made six years ago in 2008, but could not be taken up due to the objections of the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI). In 2012, the project caught the fancy of Punjab deputy chief minister Sukhbir Singh Badal, but could never see the light of the day.
Originally mooted in 2008, the `5-crore project was aimed at attracting both domestic and foreign tourists, who love ethnic dishes. It was to come up at the Panorama Complex in the premises of the historic Company Bagh that houses the summer palace of Maharaja Ranjit Singh. However, the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) turned down the proposal on the grounds that the Company Bagh is a protected site.
In 2011, the Amritsar municipal corporation identified a few more suitable locations, but the proposal failed to move any further as the government failed to finalise the site. In 2012, the Sukhbir Badal announced that a food street would be set up in Amritsar. However, two years after his announcement, it is nowhere in sight.
'Unknown' is the word that could best describe the current status of the project as the civic authorities are as much ignorant about the project as the residents of the city.
All that mayor Bakshi Ram Arora had to say about the project was that it was announced by the deputy chief minister. "Hence, he is the right person to tell you about the current status of the proposed food street. All that I know is that the venue for the project could not be finalised. There is a possibility that it could be developed at the Town Hall building after the Amritsar municipal Corporation shifts to its new building. As of now, I cannot say anything about it as I do not know anything about the project," he said.
According to APS Chattha, president, Amritsar Hotel Association, food streets are the lifelines of the cities across the world in which these have been developed. "Food streets are highly instrumental in attracting tourist traffic, which at present is almost negligible in Amritsar. Since ages, we have been hearing the proposal for setting up a food street for Amritsar, but only time will tell when this proposal would actually materialise," he said.
Surinder Singh, a hotelier, said that the project should be initiated at the earliest as it would work wonders in improving the tourism scenario of Amritsar. He, however, maintains that priority should be given only to the traditional cuisine of Amritsar. "There are a number of dishes that are typical to the traditional Amritsari cuisine. These should be promoted in the food street instead of allowing multi-national companies to enter and earn profits by selling globally-eaten foods in the name of Amritsari cuisine," he said.
The project was announced by the dy CM. He is the right person to tell you about its current status. All that I know is that the venue for the project could not be finalised. I cannot say anything as I do not know anything about the project
Bakshi Ram Arora, mayor
Food streets are the lifelines of the cities across the world as they help attract tourist traffic, which at present is almost negligible in Amritsar. Since ages, we have been hearing the proposal for setting up a food street in Amritsar, but only time will tell when it would materialize.
APS Chattha, president, Amritsar Hotel Association
The project should be initiated at the earliest as it would work wonders in improving the tourism scenario of Amritsar. The traditional Amritsari cuisine should be promoted in the food street instead of allowing MNCs to earn profits by selling global foods in the name of Amritsari cuisine.
Surinder Singh, hotelier
The food street could have benefited the city immensely not just from the viewpoint of tourism, trade and industry, but also by enriching its cultural scenario. Had the project materialised, it would have been joyfully received by the residents of Amritsar, who are known to be food lovers.
Sehaj Gulati, teacher