Mumbai stands divided on taking city’s famed street food off the menu

For roughly four out of every ten hawkers in Mumbai earn a living by selling cooked food. Several residents across the city also depend on street food for their daily meals.

Written by Srinath Raghvendra Rao , Rohit Alok | Mumbai | Updated: October 24, 2015 4:12 am

IF THE Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) finally decides to implement the High Court directive of acting against eateries cooking food on the streets, Mumbai’s famed street hawking culture is bound to take a big hit.

For roughly four out of every ten hawkers in Mumbai earn a living by selling cooked food. Several residents across the city also depend on street food for their daily meals.

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Interestingly enough, the civic administration itself is divided on the High Court directive. While some officials say taking such drastic measure is “just not feasible”, a section believes such a move would help ease city’s horrific congestion levels. And then there are those who express concern on how Mumbai’s image as a global city could take a hit if action was initiated against the city’s famed street food culture.

Requesting anonymity, a senior BMC official said, “A city is globally recognised because of its street food. Mumbai is perceived as one such global city across the world due to its flavours on the streets.”

“Not everyone in Mumbai can afford to eat at hotels everyday as they tend to be expensive. A simple vada pav can suffice for lunch and a bhel puri can be an evening snack. But what will people eat if all the food is taken off streets?,” said another senior BMC officials. “But we will try our best to implement the High Court directives,” he added.

However, another faction within the BMC believes the decision will improve the road and sidewalk quality of Mumbai, which have innumerous street food stalls.

Hawkers representatives, meanwhile, mantained that the National Street Vendors Policy, which has now been adopted by the government, recognised street vending as a right and has imposed certain restriction of action by the police or civic authorities.

A BMC road department official applauded the judgement. “This move will improve the scope of overcoming congestion on Mumbai roads, while permitting more road projects to be completed in time.”

Jigar Gajjariya, a street food enthusiast, said, “The city is known for it’s street food such as the Vada Pav, the Bhaji Pav. It will be really sad if such food
goes off the streets.”

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