October 11, 2008 3:08:51 am
No more mouthwatering sight of samosas and vadas being fried or tea being boiled in a corner stall on the railway platform. At least not under Western and Central railway, which are getting ready to ban cooking at foodstalls on platforms.
The step comes in view of accidents that cooking at crowded platforms of metro cities, especially Mumbai, has caused.
The cooking will be done in a centralised kitchen instead. The Indian Railways has directed both Western and Central railway to provide space for a base kitchens at each station.
Owners of stalls can install microwave ovens and other power-based heating equipment to heat eatables.
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A letter to Western and Central railway sent in July suggested steps to prevent frying or deep frying eatables in stalls on platforms. It’s a fire hazard and should be phased out. A base kitchen should be provided for cooking at every station, the letters stated. Group manager, Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation, RD Sharma, said, “We have sent a letter to the authorities of both railways (Western and Central) to make arrangements for base kitchens at every station from Churchgate to Dahanu road in the western suburbs and from CST to Karjat and Kasara. Cooking will be done there only. No stall owner will be allowed to cook on the platform.”
CCM, Western Railway, NC Sinha, said: “Efforts are on for setting up base kitchens at stations.”
According to sources, a Railway Board circular in February, 2005 said cooking at stations in listed metro cities across India should be prohibited in a phased manner. From August 31, 2005, cooking on sigris and stoves at stations was prohibited. Cooking on gas stoves was discouraged at platforms, but as there were no orders in writing, it quietly went on. Once the base kitchens are set up, stall owners will cook in the centralised kitchen.
The news, understandably, has not gone down well with owners of the stalls. One of them said: “It is not a practical proposition. There are 6 to 15 stalls at a station. Cooking in a single kitchen at the same time will inevitably lead to fights breaking out daily.”
Another complained, “If cooking is prohibited, preparing tea at platforms will be prohibited. If we install tea or coffee vending machines, we will have to increase the prices. It will hurt our business.”
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