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Sunday, Jan 19, 2020

MCG’s plan for street vendors evokes mixed response from office-goers

On Wednesday, the civic agency had directed private companies to make provisions for refreshments inside their establishments so employees do not go out and create a demand for street food, eliminating the need for food vendors and thereby temporary encroachments.

gurgaon Updated: Feb 08, 2019 15:25 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, Gurugram
Street vendors seen at Sector 39, in Gurugram, India, on Thursday, February 7, 2019.  Office goers in the city said the food vendors did not just help get them cheap and tasty food, but the process of stepping out for a break was invaluable as it improved their work efficiency.
Street vendors seen at Sector 39, in Gurugram, India, on Thursday, February 7, 2019. Office goers in the city said the food vendors did not just help get them cheap and tasty food, but the process of stepping out for a break was invaluable as it improved their work efficiency.(Yogendra Kumar/HT Photo )
         

The Municipal Corporation of Gurugram’s (MCG) unique “permanent” solution to clear encroachments from major roads around office areas in the city has evoked a mixed response from the city’s office-goers.

While conceding that the step may reduce traffic congestion, employees said the vendors did not just help get them cheap and tasty food, but the process of stepping out for a break was invaluable as it improved their work efficiency.

On Wednesday, the civic agency had directed private companies to make provisions for refreshments inside their establishments so employees do not go out and create a demand for street food, eliminating the need for food vendors and thereby temporary encroachments.

“My workload, especially towards the end of the month, is extremely high. The only break I get during this time is when I step outside for a tea or a quick bite to eat from one of the vendors. It also helps me concentrate better. While I admit that vendors encroach roads in some capacity, officials need to demarcate vending zones for them in office areas here, like they have in other places of the city,” said Jagdeep Singh, who works in Sector 41.

“This (demarcation) will ensure the vendors don’t lose their livelihood and we also get to unwind,” Singh said.

According to a survey conducted by the MCG in June 2016, the city had 14,174 hawkers. Officials estimate that number may have now grown to more than 19,000 hawkers. Since October 2016, MCG has demarcated street vending zones in just three places—sectors 47, 50 and 38.

Each of these zones are in an empty plot by the roadside and accommodates an average of 20 vendors. Food and beverages costing under Rs 100 are served here.

Office-goers said they are also wary of the quality of food that might be served at their workplaces and believe their work establishments may charge much more for the same quantity and quality of food that is served on the street.

“My daily meal, which includes a beverage, costs Rs 30. When I buy the same items from my office cafeteria, it costs me Rs 110. Despite costing four times less than the canteen food, the street food is more reliable in terms of quality and taste. Even if the MCG removes the street food vendors from my office area, I will find an alternative outside my office for procuring food as I cannot sustain myself on office food,” Siddhant Chawla, who works in Sector 39, said.

It is not just the low cost that pulls the working class to the streets, it is the taste too, said Sanjeet Sinha who works in Sector 29.

“At least thrice a week, I buy chhole-kulche for lunch from a roadside stall located opposite offices on the Mall Mile. For me and my colleagues, it is not just a roadside stall which provides food to fill our stomachs, we relish it and consider it as an ‘outing’ of sorts. I also take my family there occasionally because the food tastes that good! The MCG’s decision will affect foodies like me and their families who turn to roadside eateries to get delicious food on a budget,” Sinha said.