790 Indigenous Food Streets Across India On The Anvil

New Delhi: India is planning 790 Indigenous Food Streets (IFS), an authorised vending zone on the lines of Singapore’s world-famous open-air food courts that have UNESCO status. They will only serve mouth-watering, safe and hygienic local delicacies along with promoting the country’s vibrant and unique roadside food culture.

The proposal by the union health ministry is being studied by the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO).  A presentation was also made to MPs in the last parliament session that received an enthusiastic response. The ministry, which will pilot the project, will be the funding agency for creating 790 Indigenous Food Streets, 158 such streets per year for a period of five years, The New Indian Express reported.

The money earmarked for the project is Rs. 395 crore @ Rs. 50 lakh per street in 5 years. An additional cost of Rs. 19.75 crore has also been earmarked for carrying out social audits by the union health ministry.

“A food vending zone meeting specified benchmarks for street food safety, and hygiene will be declared as an Indigenous Food Street (IFS). The idea is not only to showcase and preserve age-old culinary heritage and famed local delicacies but also to turn it into a tourist hotspot. It will also boost employment and the economy,” officials told this newspaper.

According to the proposal, every parliamentary constituency will have at least one cluster of vendors, lanes, and streets recognised as Indigenous Food Street.

The goal is to uplift safety and hygiene standards of street vended foods, ensure proper regulatory oversight on street food vendors, training and capacity building of street food vendors, engage local municipality bodies for infrastructure and facilities, building trust among consumers in local eating and recognition to street food clusters and safeguard and boost the livelihood of the vendors, the report added.

Fact file

  • Food vendors will be located in a common geographical area like specific roads, alleys, lanes, offices or markets, or even prominent tourist places.
  • They will be provided with standard facilities like food carts, water, light, gas connection, waste disposal, garbage collection, washrooms, hand washing stations and parking.
  • The health ministry will allocate 60 per cent of funds for the project, 40 per cent will be drawn from either fund of the urban local body; MPLADS or state government funds. The proposals will be monitored and evaluated through an Empowered Committee, which the Union Health Secretary will chair.
  • It will be mandatory for each street vendor to have a valid allotment and registration with the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI), under the health ministry.
  • The Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS) will be the central implementing agency and the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs will identify designated clusters. They will allot space to the food vendors, identified by the local civic bodies and duly approved by the concerned MP. The ministry will also make necessary provisions for basic infrastructure.
  • The local bodies will be tasked with training street vendors and carrying out final audits of the vending area through FSSAI recognised training and audit partners.
  • The proposal also has a provision for a third-party audit, which will also take feedback from the general public, food vendors and associated stakeholders for further improvements.

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