The Hotel and Restaurant Association of Western India (HRAWI) has come out in strong condemnation of BMC’s decision to conduct random checks at star hotels and Grade – I hotels in the city to inspect their cleanliness and health aspects. The civic body’s health department plans to draw hotels and restaurants for inspection by lottery system and officers will visit respective establishment premises unannounced. Ironically, barring the star category and Grade – I restaurants, the BMC has no such plans for the rest of the hotels and restaurants in the city.
Questioning the motive, the association has opined that this is nothing but a harassment tactic. “If the BMC were really serious about health and sanitation issues, they would be addressing the issue of unlicensed eateries that don’t follow any procedures and prepare food in filthy conditions. The water they use, the storage condition, the constant exposure to dust, the pests that run in and out from these stalls don’t seem to concern the BMC at all. In this context, targeting the Grade – I restaurants and star hotels is curious,” says Mr. Gurbaxish Singh Kohli, Vice President, HRAWI.
The 65 year old HRAWI is one of the oldest and the most efficient industry associations. Asserting a tradition of proactive partnership with the government, it has drawn attention to the long practice of self regulation followed by city restaurants and has stated that the BMC’s decision to pick only star and Grade – I restaurants is arbitrary and illogical. “We have always been compliant to food safety standards and the services have only improved over time. Our families and friends eat at our restaurants as often as guests do. But without a framework or plan, the inspectors will turn up at the busiest time and disrupt normal functioning. Random raids, as we have seen in the past, go on to serve only one purpose, and that is harassment. We hope BMC will withdraw the decision,” said Mr. Bharat Malkani, President, HRAWI.
Mr. Malkani also pointed out that maintaining hygiene standards is the function of Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) and the BMC should be focused on curbing food cooked and sold without adopting any hygiene or health guidelines rather than creating a raid raj.
“Being penalized for forming a vital factor of the organized sector, this discrimination of facilitating the unorganized roadside eateries only shows that we get harassed and victimized as the soft targets,”said Mr. Kamlesh Barot, past president, HRAWI.