Pune, 16th January 2024: Pune Municipal Corporation’s (PMC) recent proposal to establish “Khau Galli” (Food Lanes) or food plazas at four locations within the city has sparked controversy and concerns over traffic congestion and sanitation issues arising from the proliferation of street food vendors.
The initiative comes in response to the increasing presence of food stalls along major streets and lanes in Pune, leading to both traffic disruptions and unsanitary conditions. Despite these challenges, there has been a lack of enforcement against unauthorized stalls, prompting PMC’s Encroachment Department to consider the establishment of designated food plazas.
In 2014, PMC conducted a survey of official hawkers, including food vendors, identifying stalls selling a variety of items from Vada Pavs and Dosa to Chinese and Biryani. The hawker policy prohibits street cooking, allowing only the sale of prepared food. However, the enforcement has been lax, with the encroachment department often turning a blind eye, only resorting to cylinder confiscation during specific campaigns.
Major roads like Satara Road, Shivaji Road, Sinhagad Road, Karve Road, and others have witnessed the proliferation of food stalls, both official and unauthorized. The latter, often supported by local corporators and MLAs, block roads and pedestrian paths, creating ad-hoc food streets.
The proposed Khau Galli locations include the area from Fun Time Multiplex on Sinhagad Road to the Rajiv Gandhi Zoological Museum in Nanded City and Gunjan Chowk to Shastri Nagar Chowk in Yerawada. However, the plan has raised questions about potential traffic congestion and the impact on existing pedestrian infrastructure.
Traffic congestion is a critical issue in Pune, and the proposal to introduce more food plazas raises concerns about exacerbating the problem. Additionally, there is unease about the lack of planning for wet waste generated by food vendors, leading to dumping in open spaces, rainwater chambers, and road dividers.
Ashit Jadhav, Executive Engineer of the Encroachment Department, mentioned, “Permission has been sought from the road department. If granted, facilities will be made available for food vendors.”
On the other hand, Aniruddha Pawaskar, Chief Engineer (Road), emphasized the need for site inspections to assess the impact on roads and footpaths.