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As Punjab govt gears up to open Lahore-like food street in Amritsar, no takers for existing one

The existing food street, Urban Haat, too was inaugurated on the lines of Lahore’s food street amid much fanfare by Sukhbir Badal in 2016.

punjab Updated: Feb 26, 2018 10:32 IST
Surjit Singh
Surjit Singh
Hindustan Times, Amritsar
Lahore food street,Amritsar food street,Amritsar
Urban Haat wears a deserted look in Amritsar on Saturday. (Sameer Sehgal/HT)

While the Punjab government is gearing up to open a Lahore-like food street in Amritsar, there are practically no takers for the existing similar project — Urban Haat.

The haat too was set up on the lines of Lahore’s food street in May 2016 which was inaugurated by the then deputy chief minister Sukhbir Singh Badal amid much fanfare.

The abandoned heritage structure of Guru Teg Bahadur Hospital was revamped and beautified into the food street at the cost of Rs 11.5 crore. A 10-day Amritsar heritage festival was also organised to mark its beginning where 150 stalls by various artistes and experts from across India, and even Pakistan, were set up.

The government wanted to convert the site into a hub of eateries and craft shops. The project was seen as a booster dose for tourism in Amritsar and noted eateries of the city were invited to open their kitchens at the food court.

However, the fate of this project is now hanging in the balance. The premises wears a deserted look as neither eateries nor traders are keen setting up their outlets here. The reason of such a dismal state could be attributed to the government’s apathetic attitude.

Famous eateries had earlier shown interest to open their businesses here, but packed up within few months due to scanty number of visitors. “The government did not publicise the food street properly. It also failed to open the craft bazaar there which would have helped the eateries to operate successfully,” said Gurvinder Kaur, who had also set up her kitchen at the haat.

Despite its sought-after address, the project has not achieved its goals so far.

Now, the Congress government in the state has announced to open a new Lahore-like food street at Town Hall, situated along the Heritage Street near the Golden Temple. The announcement in this regard was made by chief minister Captain Amarinder Singh during his visit to Amritsar on February 10.

Punjab local bodies and tourism minister Navjot Singh Sidhu, who was accompanying the CM, promised to begin the project on priority basis and announced its completion within six months.

“Opening a new food street is a good move. But, the previous one on which the government spent crores needs to be taken care of,” said Sumit Singh, a resident.

An official of the PunjabUrbanDevelopment Authority (PUDA), who is also a custodian of the project, said, “Proposal of putting the project on the public-private partnership mode was made to the state government months ago, but we are yet to receive any communication from the authorities.”

When contacted, deputy commissioner Kamaldeep Singh Sangha said they had been holding meetings with the officials concerned and will come up with something substantial to revive the project.

The abandoned Urban Haat, however, has become an ideal site for film shootings.

First Published: Feb 26, 2018 10:32 IST