Kakinada: Street vendors trading food items without completing the registration formalities will have to face the music as the Food Safety authorities plan to tighten the rules of the sector.
Checking will shortly begin in the district to find out such illegal traders. Items used for trade will be seized besides the legal actions. The vigil is tightened mainly to avoid the chance of food poisoning and the distribution of contaminated items.
“We have noticed the mushrooming of wayside food vendors without any valid registration and food safety measures. This has to be controlled for health reasons,” says a senior officer attached to the Food Safety Department.
He says only through a proper registration, the department will be able to identify the genuine traders and ban the unhygienic players. The tightening of rule will mainly lock out the flooding number of migrant vendors who occupy the streets with their products manufactured in unknown locations and often using unhygienic contents.
The official said the vendor would be liable for sale of any sub-standard food material and liable for action. Failure to get themselves registered will also attract heavy penalty, he added.
It may be recalled here that under the Food Safety and Standards Act 2006, which was implemented across the country in 2011, any person engaged in food business will have to register and obtain a licence to run his business. The vendors will have to fulfil safety and hygiene conditions to obtain a licence.
Under this, all sorts of food businesses, including fruits and vegetables sellers, roadside tea stalls, grocery and milk shops, restaurants, hotels, canteens and caterers will have to obtain a licence. Rentals from the vendors will be collected by the civic bodies. The Act will streamline the entire street vending system as there will be a concrete list of registered vendors.
Most importantly, the rules are expected to remove bribery, which will benefit the vendors in a big way, said FSSAI officer BVSRK Prasad. He said the government would start registering vendors and issue food licenses very soon. The officials concerned will first conduct surveys to prepare a final list of street vendors.
For registration, a vendor will have to provide a photo identification card along with other documents. The officials will also have the authority to revise monthly rentals from time-to-time, based on prevailing rates of the area concerned. There are over 35,000 street vendors in the city.
Though the tightening of regulations is mainly aimed at unhygienic migrant vendors, local vendors, who have been dealing with the trade of food items for a long time, are also likely to be pulled up for not having registrations. So far, many of them have been enjoying a good income without any registration formalities. Ch Srinu, a native food vendor, says the registration formalities have been tightened mainly to grab a portion of their meagre income for unwanted technicalities. “In the name of rules, they will conduct searches among the poor traders like us and as a result, several of us will have to find other business options for gaining something during Godavari Pushkaralu,” he rues.
Earlier, the civic body had cracked down on fast food vendors at many places in the city, evicting them from the streets, stating that the food sold on streets was a health hazard. Defending its swift action on street food vendors, the civic body said that it had launched the eviction drive as street food vendors were creating problems for smooth pedestrian movement and polluting the environment.
An awareness meeting on the precautions to be taken by street vendors was conducted at Ambedkar Bhavan here in December 2015.
AITUC East Godavari president and CPI leader Tatipaka Madhu said many poor families were dependent on hawking for sustenance. He said that the stringent provisions will severely impact the lives of thousands of vendors. The provisions notified by the State government are not vendor-friendly, he added.