Eateries in medical college area hike prices twice in a month

Growing public protests against the unilateral hike in price of food served at restaurants and hotels near the Government Medical College Hospital here have compelled the District Collector to call an urgent meeting on Tuesday to broker peace.

The agitations reached a peak on Monday when members of the public and activists took out demonstrations, accusing the restaurants of fleecing poor patients and their families at a time when they were already at a low, financially and mentally.

“Patients who come here are mostly below poverty line or in a financially bad position. It is a crime that a handful of hotels located near the Government Medical College here are taking advantage of their location to fleece these poor people who have come here on a medical emergency and may not have the time or the money to go to restaurants in the city. Access to cheap and decent food is a basic right in this country,” T.K.A Azeez, district committee president, Medical College Area Janakiya Prathirotha Samithi, which was in the forefront of the agitations held on Monday, said.

Cheaper fare available

Those who attended the demonstrations in the evening asked why the hotels in the medical college area alone chose to increase the rate of ordinary meals twice in one month to Rs.35, when lunch was served in restaurants in the city for Rs.28.

“A little farther down, at Kovoor, a basic meal costs only Rs.28. There should be some uniformity in the prices,” Mr. Azeez said.

Taking note of the public’s concerns, District Collector C.A. Latha scheduled a meeting between the representatives of the public and the restaurateurs of the area with the District Supply Officer in attendance at the Collectorate.

Plea for kitchen

Mr. Azeez said requests had been made in the past to the hospital development committee to give some land to start a kitchen where food for patients could be sold at Rs.20. “The District Collector is the chairperson of the hospital committee. So far, there has not been any definite response to this request,” he said.

Reacting to the protests, N.B. Krishna Kurup, president of the Hotels and Restaurants Association, agreed that the restaurants in the area had increased the prices twice in a month. But, he said, this was done out of necessity considering the escalating prices of essential commodities.

“The hotels these people are targeting are small establishments, and not ‘star’ hotels where a simple meal would cost you Rs.150. They are just able to make ends meet. The price hike served most of them a body blow. They too have to survive. The protests organised are politically motivated. Anyway, we will see in tomorrow’s meeting,” Mr. Kurup said.

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