Food kiosks to add chaos?

NEW STALLS

After haggling with rickshaw wallas and waiting in long check-in queues at Metro stations, the sweet fragrance of baked patties and hot waft of samosas sway the mind from the destination.

One ends up standing in front of the food stalls at Metro stations and looks at all that is available; from pastries to burgers and dhokla to rolls. But before placing an order, many enquire if eatables are fresh. The vendor on the other side of the shelf gives a convincing smile.

All these doubts will be put to rest from next month as Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC) is all set to open food kiosks at 130 Metro stations. They have tied up with Delhi Metro Railway Corporation (DMRC) for the kiosks which will be christened ‘Food Track’ and be visible on the blue and violet lines before the check-in points.

The hallmark of these kiosks would be hygiene factor as all food items – snacks like samosa, sandwich, bread roll and meals will be packed. Even dishes like chole rice, rajma rice and kadhi rice will be available and served in sealed trays which would be microwave compatible, similar to what is served in trains and that too certified by the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI).

All sounds good for the foodies but on the flip side, the thriving business of existing food stalls will face a major setback. Suneel Arya, the caretaker of Bakers Pride at Rajiv Chowk Metro Station says, “My daily earning is around Rs 8,000 on weekdays and 12,000 on weekends. I assume that my business will be affected by 20 per cent per day.” 

Sharing his worries, Suneel informs that earlier he used to sell rajma rice after buying it from a local supplier but since it would create a lot of mess, he stopped selling it.

“But in order to survive the competition, I might have to restart selling the dish,” he says.

Krishna Chetri, who owns two stalls, one at Karol Bagh Metro and Jhandewalan Metro Stations each, says, “The rent of the stall is already very high and with the new food stalls opening up in vicinity, my sales will definitely go down by approximately 50 per cent because customers believe that government stalls serve fresh food contrary to us.”

What worries him the most is the thought of reducing prices in order to survive in the business and the need to increase food options, including introducing full-fledged meals.
Some, including passengers, are of the view that serving meals will mess up the clean environs of the Metro.

Niharika Dua, a young professional, feels that “Though there are not many food kiosks at violet line metro stations, the blue line is already full of them. So adding more food stalls will only lead to a chaos. Getting good quality food is always good but when the Metro Stations will be littered with meal trays, the sight of clean stations will become a distant dream.”

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