The move was to cover food items considered aam aadmi’s staple

Will customers visiting restaurants ever have well-defined rights?

Chief Minister Oommen Chandy’s statement about a possible piece of legislation for regulating food prices in hotels rings hollow in the face of an already existing proposal that is yet to take off. The proposal was to set up an authority in each district to regulate the price of food items supplied through restaurants.

The Food and Civil Supplies department had held preliminary discussions and was to fine tune it based on suggestions from stakeholders.

Food and Civil Supplies Minister Anoop Jacob told The Hindu last October that the proposal would be forwarded to the Law Department to get it into the shape of a Bill after incorporating suggestions by stakeholders, including hoteliers and consumer forums. He had sounded hopeful of tabling the Bill in the Assembly during the budget session this year.

The proposal was to cover food items considered aam aadmi’s staple diet such as idli, dosa, vada, tea, coffee, fish-curry meals etc while leaving out ‘premium’ items like biriyani, fried rice etc.

However, the proposal had met stiff resistance with the Kerala Hotel and Restaurants Association (KHRA) revolting against any move to regulate and bring about uniformity in the prices of hotel food items.

KHRA even threatened to approach the court against any such move. Their argument was that it was unfair to regulate hotels when everything from fuel to LPG was being deregulated. They also questioned the practicality of regulating the price of food made with different ingredients involving varied costs. The association also cited the frequent rise in the prices of commercial cooking gas cylinders for increasing prices at hotels.

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