Your Space: Unhealthy street food sell on official plate in Pune
More than 60 per cent respondents in a survey conducted by Pune Municipal Corporation demanded affordable fruits and vegetables and a ban on unhealthy street food.
The survey found that takeaway food delivered to homes was extremely popular. What should authorities do to encourage safe, nutritious and affordable food?
Authorities fail act against unhygienic food stalls
It is generally observed that government bodies like Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) and other local self-government bodies have failed to provide services to the public. Residents pay taxes but services are lacking as is evident on what is happening to the roads, drainages, street lights, absence of implementation of road safety measures and other issues that affect the society. Access to safe and nutritious fruits and vegetables is a fundamental right, but of late since the traders are increasing prices at their whims and fancies, there is no fear in them and, as a result, fruits and vegetables are becoming out of bounds for the common man due to skyrocketing prices. There is no price control mechanism in place and corruption makes it difficult for the prices to come down. Due to corruption by licencing authorities, the reality at PMC and cantonment areas is there for everyone to see. Civic bodies don’t act, but only issue notice after some incidents and keep quiet as they don’t have the moral courage to act against the hawkers selling unhygienic food as they accept bribes and look the other way. The corrupt licencing authorities must be brought to task and asked to pay fines for endangering the lives of citizens. Saleem Babalal Mulla
Officials fail to perform their duty
Residents must regularly check with the health department on who are the officers responsible for checking the food served in the city. Our experience is that authorities have abandoned their responsibilities and if caught they blame the system and the people. We demand that FIRs must be lodged against the health department, anti-encroachment squads and other supervisory officers for allowing unhygienic street food to flourish owing to corruption and self- aggrandisement. The anti-corruption agencies must keep a close watch on health department officials for they are the institutions creating problems related to public health by relinquishing their duties.
Dr Suvarna Deshpande
Residents can sue officials for inaction
The civic departments must realise that the citizenry has become educated and can sue the officials in the court of law for allowing unhygienic food being served on roadsides. The unhygienic food served by hawkers is the lubricant of the black economy of the civic authority. Honest taxpayers of restaurants and hotels are feeling disappointed that despite maintaining health standards, including hygiene and paying taxes, hawkers selling unhygienic food have taken over the roads right outside their establishments, paying zero tax but bribes and endangering the health of citizens. A scenario is emerging where the responsible bodies’ apathetic attitude is being considered as their active participation in destroying public health.
Police action is the need of the time
The issue of food hygiene has to be investigated failing which we will emerge as the most sick city in the country. Corruption has eaten into our administration and the law breakers (hawkers) don’t fear regulation any more. Police action is the need of the time and conviction of the officials involved in abandoning their responsibilities can only bring about a positive change in the society. Currently the food hawker mafia supported by corrupt officials rules the city roads and government cannot do anything about it.
Dr Anil Agarwal
Residents are unaware of health hazards
The sale of foodstuffs by vendors on cantonment and Pune city footpaths from four-wheelers, three-wheelers and makeshift roadside restaurants is going on unchecked almost everywhere in the city and more so at busy marketplaces with the blessing of the licencing and anti-encroachment authorities as money changes hands in the dirty business. The PMC seems to have accepted this hazardous practice as an unavoidable component of the city food culture. Many people are unaware of the dangers of eating such food sold openly on street corners, footpaths and places other than hotels and restaurants and its dreadful impact on their health. They need to be educated about the health hazards by the health department.
Time for authorities to act against offenders
Dust particles in the heavily polluted air settles on the uncovered food during the course of its display and hordes of flies hovering over it are major health hazards for citizens. Heaps of cooked food displayed on large platters by vendors on roadsides are storehouses of different kinds of viral, bacterial and water-borne diseases, which can afflict consumers. Hawkers without fearing action are setting up temporary food shops on footpaths and open spaces in the city areas and are causing hardships to pedestrians who are forced to use the edges of roads, which are already overburdened by recklessly driven vehicles. The traffic branch must take action against these hawkers and the local police station must book them under IPC for creating problems for citizens. Pune cantonment area is the worst hit by unhygienic food stalls as it is being allegedly run by elected members who formulate rules at the board for governance and discipline.
Avoid street food
The food sold on roadsides is contaminated food and people should avoid eating it. The food items sold at open air food shops include substandard mutton, poultry and milk products by the vendors, who have not bothered to get licences from the government. They enjoy the support of administration and despite raids, the hawkers have refused to budge from the illegal spots and continue to spread their menace with the assistance of the civic authorities.