One of the most elite neighbourhoods in the city, Cuffe Parade too is not spared from the nuisance of street food vendors encroaching the roads.
The food vendors at Cuffe Parade are causing a lot of inconvenience to the residents. Anuli Benjamin, a journalist and resident of Cuffe Parade, says, “They serve customers till 1 a.m., which creates a ruckus and disturbs us.”
The matter seems to be getting out of hand. Benjamin adds, “Due to the vendors and their patrons, the available parking space on the road reduces. Also, the road is congested with customers waiting in their cars. However, the filth left behind is our greatest grievance. We have tried requesting vendors to improve their hygiene, but they have even been abusive at times. Some of the residents had even signed a petition and sent it to the Cuffe Parade Residents Association (CPRA), but in vain.”
The hawkers are from the nearby slum area and this occupation is evidently fruitful. Earlier, there used to be just one vendor offering corn, but he has now expanded his business to include other dishes. This has led to two more stalls coming up opposite the World Trade Centre, along with other stalls in the area. Several of them, such as the corn vendor, claim to have a license and to have been there for nearly 40 years.
Ashok Kanwar, president of the CPRA, says that there is nothing the organisation can do. “Both the CPRA and the BMC are exasperated. We have tried getting rid of the hawkers, but they are back with their stalls in less than 12 hours. We have even complained to the police several times but that has not worked either. I suspect the authorities are being paid, as the hawkers do not fear them and no action has been taken against them.” Kanwar also highlights the fact that office-goers are in favour of these vendors. “People who come to work in Cuffe Parade eat at these stalls. There is always a crowd blocking the road around them. It creates traffic jams in the entire neighbourhood. The discarded plates and cups stink but no efforts are made to clean up after the customers.”
Hygiene and sanitation
The hygiene of the place and the food is also in question. The vendors can be seen slicing vegetables and preparing sauces on the pavements. No more than two pans and a stove are used to cook for more than 200 people. The quality of the products used is also debatable. The patrons, however, are undeterred. The corn vendor estimated 200 customers per day, which increases to more than 400 during the weekend.
This earns him approximately Rs 30,000 per day. The other hawkers in the area, offering the same fare, earn close to Rs 10,000 a day.
There is also a section of people who believes that these hawkers have a right to earn their livelihood. Nidhi Hemdev, a college student and resident of Cuffe Parade, says, “The hawkers serve delicious food that is extremely affordable and convenient. I understand that three of them on the same street is probably a nuisance, however, as long as the quality of the food and the cleanliness of the place is not compromised, I believe it is a decent way for them to earn money.”