New players defaming old city’s food culture, rue traders

According to the federation, many large confectioners are operating in a manner which is detrimental to the smaller operators.

NEW DELHI:  Old Delhi, formerly known as Shahjahanabad, is well-known for its cuisine and street shopping. Its residents have long been demanding that the govt takes steps to preserve and maintain its rich heritage & food culture. The Walled City Residential Welfare Federation, an umbrella association of various RWAs in the walled city, has also written to it on the same, underlining the need to preserve the rich food heritage culture.

According to the federation, many large confectioners are operating in a manner which is detrimental to the smaller operators. “In order to preserve the food culture, authorities should demarcate the traditional and heritage food vendors with our federation, local RWAs, and mercantile associations.

Their identification is necessary since many swindlers, encroachers, and adulterators are operating in the area which has tainted the fame of the place,” it wrote. It has suggested that traditional food vendors should be trained for developing a uniform code of conduct in terms of outward appearance of their shops, dress code for employees, dustbins, operational procedures etc.

The walled city also faces issues such as illegal excavation, construction and parking, drug menace, regular incidents of mobile and chain snatching among others. “Women, girls and children feel unsafe to move out due to the drug menace in the area. I appeal to the higher authorities to take cognisance of the issue and take necessary steps to deal with it,” said Anupama Kapoor, a resident of the area.

Speaking to this newspaper, Vishal Pandey, general secretary of Walled City Residential Welfare Federation, said, “Relentless and illegal commercial activities have become the worst nightmare for residents. Besides, encroachments, loading and unloading goods on roads are leading to extreme difficulties in using these areas safely.”

‘All pleas made to authorities have fallen on deaf ears’

Dheeraj Dubey, president of Walled City Residential Welfare Federation, talks to Zaid Nayeemi on various issues concerning the area. Edited excerpts:

How important is the issue of preserving the food culture of Old Delhi?
See, those families who have been associated with their traditional and cultural food vending business for long feel that the market is losing its reputation due to ill practices by big shops who are engaged in adulteration. Only those who are associated with this market understand this pain. We have written to the administration about this, but nothing has been done till now.

How has the landscape changed over the years?
The residential area has been totally converted into a commercial zone now. People are not getting basic facilities here and thus they have migrated to other parts of the city. This conversion of residential area into a commercial one has led to traffic jams due to unauthorized parking, encroachments, and illegal offloading of trucks.

What are the other prominent issues which need immediate action?
There is the issue of drug menace. Women feel unsafe to move out. This needs to be addressed. Also, there has been a rise in mobile and chain snatching cases.

You talked about illegal excavation and construction in the area. Please elaborate.
The MCD is unfortunately not looking into this matter. We can construct only up to three-storeys; however, many builders have constructed buildings up to six floors also. The increase in population in the area has led to issues of sewage system being over-burdened and garbage disposal. One major issue is supplying borewell water to residents, which is against the NGT orders.

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