KOCHI: There is no stopping a Kochiite when it comes to partaking a duck roast, that too for free. Hundreds rushed to the mega food festival at Jawarharlal Nehru International Stadium where chicken and duck dishes were being served free of cost in a bid to allay bird flu fears in the state, on Monday.Though much planning went into its organisation by government agencies and private farming groups - not much publicity was given in order to prevent chaos.
However, by evening, news of the fest spread like wildfire through word of mouth and a long queue was witnessed by the time Excise Minister K Babu inaugurated the event around 5.30 pm.
In his inaugural address, he said that evem after bird flu was contained, certain lobbies were spreading false fears in order to ruin poultry farmers.“The bird flu is a thing of the past. It has been curbed. The food fest is to allay fears being spread by lobbyists with vested interests,” he said. However, he didn’t taste anything saying he was a vegan. People, including office goers and migrant labourers, thronged the eight counters under a tent. Shafeek, who works with a private company at Palarivattom said, “Initially, I was doubtful whether it was free but after being convinced, I told my colleagues so and they rushed to the venue.” The organisers said they prepared food for 5,000 but nearly 7,000 people arrived. “About 2,000 kg chicken and 1,000 kg ‘kuttandan’ ducks were used. Roast dishes, boiled eggs, omelets and chappathi were served,” said V Brahmanandan, Director, Poultry Development Corporation. They said that when a similar fest was held in Thiruvanthapuram a few weeks ago, the police had to resort to lathi when the mob went berserk. They also expressed interest in holding such fests in Kottayam, Tiruvalla and Changanassery.