Street-food vendors in South Mumbai have asked the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) to demarcate dedicated areas for them, along the lines of the khau gallis at Zaveri Bazaar and Bandra.
Last week, the civic body held a workshop for vendors from A ward (consisting of Nariman Point, Churchgate, Fort and other areas), considered an 'affluent' ward among the 24 administrative wards the city is divided into. During the session, around 50 street-food vendors were trained in the ways of maintaining hygiene while cooking, storing, handling and serving food, and disposing of leftovers.
It was during the workshop — an initiative by the BMC to provide citizens with hygienic food — that the vendors, most of them associated with the Mumbai Hawkers' Union, asked the civic body to demarcate a specific area or street for them to sell food.
“Lakhs of people visit Mumbai, and especially A ward, every day. The ward has 384 hotels, out of which around 100 fall in the 'luxury' category, where not all visitors can afford the food. So they rely heavily on cheaper the street-side food. But considering the inadequate space vendors have, we made this suggestion,” said Dilip Surwade, deputy chief of the Mumbai Hawkers' Union, which boasts of around three lakh members.
Surwade added that if the BMC makes this provision for them, it will help them do a better job. “The workshop was just the first meeting. We will talk to the BMC from time to time about how such areas (khau gallis) can be developed in the rest of Mumbai too. As of now, our focus in on the most-visited A ward,” he added.
Reacting to this, additional municipal commissioner Manisha Patankar-Mhaiskar said the civic body is presently collecting a list of demands/suggestions made by vendors across the city. Once the same is done with, the issues will be raised with the concerned departments. “We will need to check with the departments if the vendors can be allotted a dedicated street/lane or is space can be made available to them as a part of the hawkers’ policy,” she said.