The need to regulate roadside eateries in the city came up for discussion at the Coimbatore Corporation Council meeting on Tuesday. The issue was not about the quality of food served at the eateries. But the way they encroached upon the parking space.
The opening salvo was by the North Zone Chairman P. Rajkumar, who said that there was near zero parking space around the Nehru Stadium and near V.O.C. Park because the owners of the eateries spread out stools on roads, eating away parking space.
With the police regulating the parking of vehicles on Nanjappa Road, the city’s residents were left with little choice but to drive to the area around the Stadium to park.
Most of the vendors had 10 to 15 stools each and when spread over they occupied space that could otherwise accommodate two or three cars.
The quality of food they served needed to be verified if it was good, he said and also sought attention on the leftovers the eatery owners dump there. When they shut shop, they dumped food waste in the vicinity. The food so dumped attracted stray dogs.
The area around the Stadium and Park had seen an increase in the dog population and that threatened the elderly to went there for walking and sports persons who used the stadium around dawn.
Mr. Rajkumar wanted the Corporation to regulate the shops in such a way that they did not occupy parking space. A few other Councillors also joined him.
In doing so the Corporation should keep in mind that those who run the eateries were people from the lower strata of society and that their livelihood should not be disturbed, said S. Balan (Ward 62). Whether or not the eateries served quality food was a different issue. But they encroached upon the parking space and they needed to be regulated, said J. Sasirekha (Ward 72).
The issue regarding the roadside eateries comes after the Corporation initiated a few moves to regulate their activities. One was earmarking locations for them. The Corporation with help from the IC Centre for Governance began talking to the eatery owners by conducting a series of meetings to understand their concerns. But those proved to be half-hearted measures.
Even as the Corporation began talking to them, the authorities from the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) also engaged them to improve the quality of food.
Sources in FSSAI said that the department officers had educated a number of roadside eatery owners on safety practices to be adopted, how to ensure quality in food and what to avoid. The department had given certificates and licences to a few.
But with the Union Government extending to February 2014 the deadline for making registration and license mandatory, the officer were engaged in conducting awareness programmes.
A.L. Raja, a CITU leader associated with the food vendors’ association, said that the allegation against the vendors that they encroached upon parking space was true to an extent because in their bid to attract more customers, each vendor place more stools than his competitor.
In the process, the entire stretch was occupied by stools.
The vendors association, affiliated to the CITU, had taken a few initiatives in the past for self regulation. It would again do so.