Fraser Town residents’ assoc appeals to stop annual Food Mela

Illegal occupation of footpaths, lack of hygiene norms, traffic issues and various kinds of pollution emanating from event threaten to make local residents’ life miserable

Food Mela

Bengaluru: The annual Food Mela, a beloved tradition during the month of Ramadan in Fraser Town, faces uncertain prospects this year as the Fraser Town Residents’ Welfare Association (FTRWA) has appealed to the local MLA AC Srinivasa to put an end to the event. Citing numerous concerns ranging from safety hazards to environmental pollution, the FTRWA has called for stringent measures to address the issues plaguing the event.

According to Nikhat Aman, organizing secretary for FTRWA, the illegal occupation of footpaths by vendors poses a significant risk to pedestrians, especially children and the elderly, who are left vulnerable to accidents.

“Last year, my uncle passed away, and I was unable to come out and book a cab due to the chaos caused by the Food Mela. It was extremely difficult for me to attend his funeral,” Nikhat lamented, emphasizing the urgent need for action to ensure the safety of residents. Restaurants and sweetmeat stores along MM Road and Mosque Road set up stalls in the evenings during Ramadan every year. People from around Bengaluru rush to the mela to enjoy its unique dishes, including kebabs and other treats. On the other hand, locals have been griping about the mela’s nuisance for years.

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The lack of hygiene standards among vendors has also raised concerns, with reports of gastroenteritis cases on the rise each year. Nikhat emphasized, “There are a few hotels and restaurants that follow this It hygiene, but not all. There are no hygiene or quality control methods adopted by most of the vendors. The stalls are stationed haphazardly, causing chaos, litter, and garbage.”

In addition to safety and hygiene concerns, the FTRWA highlighted the absence of proper licensing for the event. Vendors operate without licenses from authorities such as the BBMP, Food Authorities, and Karnataka State Pollution Control Board (KSPCB), further exacerbating the regulatory challenges associated with the Food Mela.

Traffic congestion is another major issue cited by the FTRWA, with vendors occupying roads and footpaths indiscriminately, leading to massive traffic jams throughout the day. This not only inconveniences residents but also poses risks for emergency services trying to navigate the congested streets.

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Furthermore, the event has been marred by incidents of alcohol consumption in public spaces, contributing to disorderly behavior and instances of eve-teasing and street fights. Nikhat expressed concern over the lack of security measures to address these issues, stating, “Petty issues have turned into street fights with no security to monitor.”

Environmental pollution is also a significant concern, with the open charcoal cooking done on the streets contributing to increased levels of carbon monoxide. Nikhat warned, “The CO gas emitted displaces oxygen in human bodies and can lead to poisoning, posing serious health risks to residents.”

The noise pollution generated by the event further compounds the problems faced by residents, causing high blood pressure, speech interference, hearing loss, and disruptions to sleep patterns. Residents have been subjected to illegally operating businesses until the early hours of the morning, adding to the disturbances faced by the community.

Additionally, the FTRWA highlighted the exploitation of child labour within the Food Mela, calling for immediate action to address this issue.

In light of these concerns, the FTRWA has urged the local MLA AC Srinivasa to intervene and prohibit the Food Mela, proposing alternative solutions to ensure the safety, hygiene, and well-being of Fraser Town residents. Nikhat emphasized the need for stringent regulations to be implemented, stating, “Rules must be put in place to maintain hygiene standards and shift the event to designated grounds where proper infrastructure can be provided.”

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As residents await a decision from authorities, the fate of the annual Food Mela hangs in the balance, with the community divided over the necessity of preserving tradition against the pressing need for addressing the multitude of challenges it presents.

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