Even as the city corporation is in the process of preparing the Smart City project proposal, a section of civic experts has stressed the need for a proper policy to regularise street food vendors, an excluded class of entrepreneurs in the city.
Since the existing mechanism often fails in effective intervention, feasible and self-sustainable schemes should be planned to regularise wayside eateries which are an integral part of Kochi’s food culture, it has been observed.
As of now, the city lacks streets in its actual sense and street food vending here means selling food along roadside, footpaths and busy junctions.
According to the data with Ernakulam Street Food Vendors Association, the city has nearly 350 street food vendors and many of them have been functioning for over a couple of decades.
“Like other countries, where street food culture is popular, streets have to be scientifically designed and built with exclusive zones for vendors. Since sanitation is a major component of Smart City project, the corporation can initiate programmes to regularise street food vendors as part of it,” said Mr D. Dhanuraj, director of Centre for Public Policy Research (CPPR), an independent research organisation.
“But proper homework and planning are needed to make the initiative self-sustainable. Though the civic body distributed more than 50 hi-tech wayside handcarts to selected beneficiaries, the civic authorities failed to check its sustainability,” he said.
Meanwhile, traffic congestion and health concerns are two major complaints raised in support of non-recognition of street vendors.
“The civic body, which issues licence to street food vendors, should ensure that the food is safe and hygienic. The regular raids being conducted on wayside eateries expose their pitiable plight,” said an official with the health department.