Restaurant owners at the Kozhikode Medical College area here agreed to scale down the price for “ordinary” meals after District Collector C.A. Latha held talks on Tuesday with members of the public and hoteliers.

The decision to hold the meeting was announced following a public row over the unilateral price hike for food served at restaurants and hotels near the medical college premises.

The agitations had reached a boiling point on Monday when members of the public and activists held demonstrations against the restaurants, claiming they were fleecing poor patients and their families.

“The Collector decided to intervene in public interest in her role as the district’s chief administrator. The talks led the hoteliers to agree to reduce the rate of ordinary meals by Rs. 2,” T.K.A. Azeez, district committee president, Medical College Area Janakiya Prathirotha Samithi, said after attending the meeting.

The samithi had led the protests, saying meals were priced at Rs. 32 in the handful of hotels in the area and rates were increased twice in one month, leaving patients in dire straits. “A little farther down, in Kovoor, a basic meal costs only Rs. 28,” Mr. Azeez said. During the meeting, consumer activists and assorted members of the public told the Collector that the hotels should either bring down the food rates or they be allowed to serve subsidized meals through canteens set up with the co-operation of the hospital development committee. N.B. Krishna Kurup, State president of the Hotels and Restaurants Association, had justified the hike, saying it was motivated by the rising prices of commodities.

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