Street food vendors, mess and hostel owners face the heat as students skip Pune
There are thousands of such street food vendors and food canteen businesses who depend on outstation students for their daily earningsUpdated: Aug 13, 2020 17:25 IST
Street food vendors, food canteen businesses and hostel owners are facing a grim future as they slowly resume their operations after the Covid-19 pandemic lockdown is lifted. Their businesses, mostly located in central Peth areas in Pune, primarily focussed on consumers who were outstation students who had moved to the education hub for studies.
Amit Khillare runs a small snacks centre in Shukrwar peth area and he resumed his operations a few weeks ago, however, he said that his finances are abysmally low, consumer numbers not picking up and there are added maintenance costs . “Earlier, I used to start our snacks centre at 7am and my business would continue till 4pm. My daily income ranged between Rs 7,000 and Rs 8,000 and the main reason behind it were the outstation students who had come to study here and needed quick bites. Now with students not coming back from their hometowns, there is no business here and my daily income has gone down to Rs 1,500,” said Khillare.
Hundreds of other small snack centres, who operate through carts in the city lanes, are also facing a similar bleak future. Specifically in the old Peth areas, there are thousands of such street food vendors and food canteen businesses who depend on outstation students for their daily earnings.
“Before the pandemic, there was a waiting list of students wanting to register at our food mess. Our mess provides quality food at reasonable rates and hence, students would want our services to fulfil their daily food needs. Now the business is very dull and we have to search for customers and can’t afford to run the mess. Earlier, we provided daily lunch and dinner to 300 students, but now the number hardly goes up to 100 daily,” said Shankar Deshpande, owner of Gurukrupa mess in Narayan peth.
Apart from the food business, hostel owners are facing the heat too. When students from across the country come to Pune for studying, they look for accommodation and Peth areas have various old wadas converted into PG hostels.
One such owner of a PG hostel in Sadashiv peth is Ulhas Tumne. “I had 18 students living at our PG hostel and only four of them have returned till now. Due to the pandemic, no student wants to return to Pune as it is one of the Covid-19 hotspots. We also cannot force them to come back or give us rent as this is an extraordinary situation. We need to support and help each other, however, we are suffering huge financial losses as maintenance of the hostel is an ongoing process.”