The Brihamumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) Commissioner Iqbal Singh Chahal on Wednesday directed the civic planning department to take inputs from various concerned departments and formulate a comprehensive policy for allowing the setting up of food trucks in the city. Chahal also directed the officials to shortlist 50 locations in the city after obtaining NOC from the traffic department for allowing food trucks.
The BMC plans to draft a policy after taking into consideration views from other departments like the health department, removal of encroachment department, roads department, Mumbai traffic police, and Mumbai police, the officials said. For this, a joint meeting of officials/representatives of all these departments was called by the BMC commissioner on Wednesday.
Assistant municipal commissioner of planning department Kiran Dighavkar said: "We are yet to formulate the draft policy pertaining to the food trucks. There have been oral directions and opinions, views of all departments concerned were put to discussion during the joint meeting on Wednesday."
Dighavkar added: "We have been directed to shortlist 50 locations across the city that can be allowed for operating food trucks. The locations will be shortlisted after seeking NOC from the traffic department and also taking suggestions from other concerned departments. Once the policy is formulated and approved, the BMC will float tenders and pick bidders to run the food trucks. This will be done on similar lines of the on-street parking lots."
According to another senior BMC official who was present at the meeting said, "Someone suggested that some of the food trucks should be given by the BMC to women self-help groups."
The official added, "A detailed policy pertaining to food trucks will be rolled out soon, the planning department is already working on preparing the draft policy. It was clarified in the meeting that these food trucks will be for selling cooked food and not vegetables and fruits. Other technical details will be worked out while framing the draft. All food trucks will require a NOC from the traffic police and other departments like the fire brigade etc. We will also identify the location and fix timings for the food trucks as part of the policy."
Chahal directed the officials to pick and shortlist 50 locations so that each ward in the city will have at least two food trucks. However, the number of slots will be depending on the locations available in the particular ward/area.
The BMC’s planning department on October 8 issued a circular directing all wards to not distribute any food trucks bought from the BMC funds. The civic body will continue on the stay and not allow the distribution of food trucks as freebies by corporators in the city. While the BJP leaders have demanded that all 30 trucks distributed by Shiv Sena corporator in Byculla Yashwant Jadhav be seized and taken back in that case. The civic body is yet to take a call on taking back those food trucks.
However, a BMC official said," One can help needy get a loan for buying trucks, help get trucks in subsidised rates. How can someone give away trucks for free in the absence of a policy? How can someone ascertain that the trucks have reached a needy?"
The idea of food trucks and food hubs was mulled and promoted by state tourism and environment minister Aaditya Thackeray who announced having food trucks across the city to boost tourism. In the 2021-22 budget, BMC had set aside Rs 200 crore for creating food hubs along with beautification of footpaths, beautifying spaces below flyovers.