Food trucks will eat into our business, say restaurateurs

Slow start: Phoenix Market City in Kurla wears a deserted look on Day 1 of Mumbai 24x7. Industry leaders hope the scheme will work with increased awareness.

Slow start: Phoenix Market City in Kurla wears a deserted look on Day 1 of Mumbai 24x7. Industry leaders hope the scheme will work with increased awareness.  

AHAR writes to BMC citing hygiene, safety, licensing issues

The Indian Hotel and Restaurants Association (AHAR) has objected to the proposed food truck policy on the ground that they may hamper the business of small restaurants if allowed to run 24x7. In a letter to the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC), AHAR has raised issues of hygiene, safety and licences among other things.

Over the weekend, the State government facilitated a policy wherein establishments in areas such as Kala Ghoda, Bandra Kurla Complex and Nariman Point were allowed to operate 24x7. While Mumbaikars did not particularly warm up to the idea, industry leaders hoped that with increased awareness, it would work.

The BMC had discussed its food truck policy during a meeting on the Mumbai 24x7 scheme chaired by Tourism Minister Aaditya Thackeray last week. The policy was tabled before the group leaders’ meeting unofficially last year, but is now back to the drawing board. The policy will come into effect with the Municipal Commissioner’s assent.

During this meeting, it was discussed that food trucks will be allowed at six locations — Juhu Chowpatty road, Girgaum Chowpatty road, BKC, Worli Sea Face, Bandstand and Nariman Point. It was also decided that a maximum of five trucks will be allowed in one area, that they will be allowed only from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m., not more than four folding tables (16 seats) will be allowed, that they can cover only 40% of the footpath, and the minimum distance between two trucks should be 20 metres.

However, some of these rules may change.

Suresh Kakani, additional municipal commissioner, said, “We are not allowing any cooking inside the truck; food can only be microwaved and served. The timing of the food trucks will be based on the Shops and Establishments Act, which means the BMC will regulate it. So far, there is no decision to keep them open 24x7. Also, we may not allow seating there as that could lead to encroachment in future. They will need all the existing licences for an eating house along with a new food truck licence which we will start issuing.”

The policy looks to ensure food trucks are not parked within 200 metres of restaurants. The BMC will also allow these trucks to be parked in empty spaces in parking lots. The spaces are to be assigned by assistant commissioners of the relevant wards and once allotted, the truck will be parked there. The policy is still in the draft stage and following the Municipal Commissioner’s approval, will have to be approved by civic group leaders.

Meanwhile, an AHAR delegation met the executive health officer of BMC, Padmaja Keskar, on Monday and submitted its objections.

AHAR secretary Niranjan Shetty said, “Initially, we were told that food trucks would only be allowed at night, but if they are allowed 24x7, that would impact restaurants. Besides, food trucks might become like hawking, there will be no level-playing field for restaurants.”

In its letter, AHAR cited a Supreme Court order prohibiting roadside cooking, traffic, law and order issues and the lack of running water among other things. The association wants restaurants near railway stations and State Transport depots to be kept open instead where commuters and long-distance travellers can benefit.

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Printable version | Feb 20, 2020 3:40:25 PM |

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