After decades of allowing people to enjoy the nightlife at the iconic Manek Chowk and vendors to serve food in front of their establishments, police have suddenly realised that they cannot be allowed to set up tables and chairs for customers. Food vendors have been operating legally at Manek Chowk for up to 65 years, but police have suddenly issued oral orders ordering them to remove table chairs. This has forced vendors to create seating for their customers by laying tarpaulin on the chowk floor.
Customers and diners find sitting on the ground extremely uncomfortable.
The vendors are also upset and have asked the police department for permission to serve on tables.
Many customers who couldn’t or didn’t want to sit on the floor have returned from Manek Chowk disappointed and disgusted.
“This is absolutely ridiculous. How do new generation youths as well as elderly people eat food sitting on the road? Any decision must be rational. Nowhere does any night food market have such a rule,” said Ankit Bajaj, a food lover from Maninagar area. “One should also keep in mind matters of hygiene. The place cannot be cleaned properly after customers have food and vacate the spot,” he said.
“Eating food while sitting on the road may have been prevalent in old times, but no longer. These are not the times when that can be imposed on customers and food vendors. Youngsters wear tight clothes and feel discomfort and odd sitting on tarpaulin laid out on the road,” said Yogesh Jivrani, a frequent visitor from Paldi.
Food stall ‘Kailash Bhaji Pav’ owner Mahavir Soni said, “Orders issued by the authorities have put us in immense difficulty, and we hope they reconsider their decision in the interest of customers. Manek Chowk is like a living heritage.”
Sources said the first license was issued to a vendor in Manek Chowk in 1960, and as of now there are 42 official vendors and 30 unlicensed ones operating in the food market. Police have orally informed them to remove chairs and tables as the license did not have provision of putting them.
The police department, however, said the issue will be settled. Deputy Commissioner of Police, Sushilkumar Agarwal, told Mirror they had received a lot of complaints from local residents and shopkeepers that food stall owners had encroached a lot of space on the road.
“Local residents also complained that vendors leave no space left for even 108 emergency ambulances or the fire brigade vehicles to access the area. The jewelry shop owners also told us that nowadays food stall owners open their outlets even before they close their shops. Hence, we decided to make it somewhat feasible for both. However, as the place is a very significant heritage spot and a favourite of food lovers, we will try and resolve the issue in a couple of days,” said DCP Agarwal.