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Sunday, 8 November 2015

Food- on-Wheels faces a bevy of detractors - Thiruvanthapuram

Cultural organisations are against converting Manaveeyam Veedhi, which was declared a cultural street in 2001, into an eat street.— Photo: S. Mahinsha
Cultural organisations are against converting Manaveeyam Veedhi, which was declared a cultural street in 2001, into an eat street.

Activists say project will change the very character of the venue

The plans of the Gender Park and the Department of Social Justice to allow food trucks by women entrepreneurs on the Manaveeyam Veedhi have drawn strong protests.

Under Food-on-Wheels, mobile food courts will come up on the 200-metre stretch from 7 p.m. to 2 p.m. at night to tempt people’s palates and make it a gourmet street.

However, the initiative has been criticised for undermining the very concept of the Veedhi, which was declared a cultural street way back in 2001.

D. Reghoothaman, co-founder of the Abhinaya theatre group, says a number of programmes, including plays, folk songs, and film screenings, are held on the Veedhi by like-minded organisations under the aegis of the Manaveeyam Theruvora Koottam.

“We are not against a gourmet street. But it should be separate from a cultural street. Alternative venues should be found for allowing food trucks,” he says.

J. Devika, Associate Professor at the Centre for Development Studies, says little space will be left for cultural programmes if food trucks are allowed to park all through the stretch. There are plans to hold musical nights and cultural programmes, but these will cater to those who essentially come to eat, she says.

Prakash P. Gopinath of the Indus Cycling Embassy too avers that the trucks will take up a lot of space. “It will become an eat street,” he says.

He also says that though the idea was to hold cultural programmes at night, no fund allocation has been made for it. “Fourteen years of cultural interaction will disappear,” he says.

Denying food to those who come to the Veedhi is not the idea, they say. Mr. Reghoothaman says the initial proposal was to rope in Kudumbasree women but it has been amended. “Allowing organisations such as those of the physically challenged or the marginalised would also have been fine, as the aim is not just profit.”
“A limited number of trucks run by all-women catering groups such as Kudumbasree on either end of the Veedhi are not a problem. But if it’s women entrepreneurs, the question that arises is will they be present that late at night, and if these will actually be run by women,” says Ms. Devika.

Safety aspect

Mr. Reghoothaman also says that most programmes extend till 10 at night. But if the trucks reach by 7 p.m., they will be forced to vacate the space early.

Now, women are present on the Veedhi till the programmes conclude. But if it takes on a commercial character, it will not remain safe for women, they say.

They also say they haven’t been called for talks or discussions on the issue.

Source : The Hindu , 7th Nov 2015

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