Smelling a rat near the carts?

MULTIPLE DISEASES

Smelling a rat  near the carts?

If the thought of contaminated water and bad tummy isn’t enough to deter a person from eating junk food on the streets, the number of rodents around most carts ought to do the trick.

 While this isn’t a new problem in the City, the humidity and weather conditions are adding to the menace as customers continue to turn a blind eye to the creepy crawlies. Given the rising number of water and food-related diseases, something needs to be done to tackle the problem. Metrolife speaks to vendors, customers and the authorities to understand what can be done. 

According to the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP), such food carts are illegal, making it important to regulate their movement before looking at sanitation. “From the BBMP side, we are not issuing any licences to footpath vendors. These vendors and the food they provide are in general unhygienic and risky for health. The only solution is proper disposal of garbage on a regular basis, which will lead to rodent control,” says Dr Hegde, BBMP Public Health Officer.

Santosh, who owns a bhel cart near Koramangala Police Station, says that rats and flies are unavoidable because of the garbage generated. “Pests are a problem for anyone making food, be it a restaurant in a five-star hotel or a cart like mine. If the garbage was cleared more often, the problem wouldn’t arise,” he says.  

The rising expenses make it difficult for one to shift to cleaner areas, opines Shashikanth, who runs a pav bhaji cart near Ramaiah College. “It’s easy to point fingers and blame the vendors but the rent prices prevent us from working out of cleaner places. We obviously don’t want to deal with flies or worse, rats. But it’s inevitable when the only available space to make your living is the corner of the road,” he adds.

Nila S, a young professional, says that she stopped eating street food after peeking at the drain next to a chaat cart and seeing mice running around. “I’m a fan of pani puri and used to find street food extremely tempting. But once, I saw a mouse jump out of the cane dustbin we throw our plates into at a chaat stall near the Koramangala Sixth Block Park. I’ve sworn never to eat from such places after that,” she confesses. 

Many admit to falling sick after eating at such unhygienic places. “The problem isn’t only the rodents that are bound to be attracted to the garbage thrown by the street vendors. It’s also the quality of ingredients and cleanliness levels that are questionable. I’ve become picky about where I eat chaat from after suffering from horrible stomach aches,” notes Jishnu, a resident of Jayanagar. 

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