Despite the ban on unlicensed vendors outside of relegated vending zones, illegal and unregistered vendors have been selling fruits, juices, fast food and snacks outside the gates of PGIMER.
Not only do unlicensed vendors continue to encroach on the land right outside the walls of PGIMER, the vendors operate in extremely unhygienic conditions, potentially worsening the health of the already sick patients who often flock outside the gates to eat food. Vendors have set up their carts beside sludge and garbage at the site and many patients sit amidst these conditions and eat the food sold by these vendors.
“This is quite a nuisance because there is no regulation of what quality of food these vendors provide at all, especially if they are not licensed. Patients certainly should not purchase any food from there,” claimed an official from PGIMER.
According to the regulations on vendors in the city, only tea sellers and washermen are allowed to set up their carts outside of the vending zones in the city. Since the area right outside the gates of PGIMER is not a vending zone, any vendor selling food or drinks beyond tea is deemed illegal.
A senior official of the enforcement wing of the Chandigarh Municipal Corporation said that only tea vendors have a licence to set up stalls there. “We will carry out an inspection on Saturday itself if other vendors are sitting. In fact, only tea vendors are allowed there and not anyone else. Action will be taken against all illegal vendors,” said the official.
The vendors operate on makeshift platforms, laying their produce out on wooden boxes, wheeled carts or a basket attached to a bicycle.
“They sell all kinds of food without a license, but the poor patients like to get some variety of cheap food apart from the food served by the gurdwara or the red cross,” said Sohan Lal, who runs a licensed tea stall in the area. However, even the licensed tea-sellers seem to be violating the vendor by-laws by selling food along with tea. “They are only allowed to sell tea, otherwise their licenses can be revoked,” clarified the enforcement official.
More surprisingly, on the other side of the gate, where patients can buy affordable food under the Annapurna Akshaypatra Yojana made under much more hygienic conditions, there seem to be almost no takers of the service. Food including six chappatis, vegetables and pickle is provided to the poor for Rs 10 under the scheme. The number of people who avail the service is so low that operators of the food van use a microphone to periodically announce “the government will provide food for you only for Rs 10”.
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