CR Park Puja: Think twice before tucking into chicken momos & rolls
New Delhi: In CR Park area of south Delhi, dhaks begin echoing from the temples, heralding the arrival of the auspicious Durga Puja. The festival also brings along with it a myriad of delicious foods and snacks in the area, with biriyani, rolls and Mughlai paranthas being favourites.
However, for residents of CR Park – the hub of Bengali culture in the Capital, where goddess Durga is worshipped with fervour – the quality of food served in the streets is a matter of serious concern during the four-day festival.
fear of poor quality meat a major concern
Gopa Sen, who has set up a stall at the 34th Pre Puja Handloom Expo in CR Park, told Millennium Post that when devotees and pandal hoppers come for the first time, they visit different eating joints, where the quality is decent for the first day.
After that, the cooking oil is reused, which could cause serious health problems, Sen said. "I prefer to eat at home during the Puja," she added.
Another CR Park resident SK Majumdar remains very health conscious during the Puja. "The streets of CR Park are filled with the food vendors. But these vendors do not care about hygiene or cleanliness," he said.
On April 19, in Kolkata, two young men were caught red-handed by locals chopping off meat from carcasses of animals dumped in a yard at Budge Budge in South 24-Parganas. This resulted in state-wide raids in eateries and cold storages, leading to a series of arrests.
Additionally, a former CPI(M) councillor of Gayeshpur municipality in Nadia was arrested for his alleged involvement in the racket of supplying meat from animal carcasses.
Such fears have also permeated the parts of national Capital, ahead of Durga Puja.
Near the entry of Market Number Two area in CR Park, one can see many fish shops. Here, the owner of Nirmal Fish and Chicken centre strongly claims that they always keep fresh meat inside their stores.
Adjacent to this shop is another chicken shop, which sells raw meat. However, the person in-charge of this shop refused to take any questions regarding the quality of meat.
Even the people at a nearby Chinese food joint refused to entertain questions about the quality of the food prepared.
Many shopkeepers in the market say that their sale rises exponentially in the last three days of the Puja.
fresh food a priority for us, say shop owners
At Market Number One in the area, Shyam Sundar Majumdar, claimed," Being the president of the market association, I have told all shopkeepers not to sell degraded food items, as it will harm the market's reputation,"
Compared to that in Market Number Two, the fish shops in Market Number One are much larger and sell both live and dead fish.
"We preserve these fish only for two days, after that they get rotten," said a shopkeeper. When asked whether they will be able to sell all the fish within four days, he nodded.
Shopkeepers in Market Number Two claimed that they only sell live fish.
With respect to sweetmeats, like Sandesh, Gokul Saha, the proprieter of Sweet Treat, claims that they always sell their customers a fresh items. "Sweets cannot be kept for long, so we only sell them fresh," said Saha.
HOME-COOKED FOOD A BIG draw AT PANDALS
Snigdha Roy, a member of Kali Mandir Society, said they have instructed all food joints which will be set up inside pandals and nearby areas to sell a good quality food to visitors and devotees.
"If there is any compromise we will not allow the stall to be kept there," she said.
Another member Manju said that Durga Puja holds a special place in her heart and food plays an important role, thus there should be no compromise in its quality. "Children are the one who are most happy during festivals. So, there should only get the best quality of food," she added.
Utpal Ghosh, from the Navapalli Puja Samiti, said that during the festival, they allow only ice cream and soft drink counters inside the pandals.
"Mass langars will also be there, in which the food will be cooked by professionals who maintain proper hygiene. There will also be a food stall outside the pandal," said Ghosh.
This year, the Samiti's theme for the puja is baul. The Samiti will also hold a food festival, wherein home-cooked food will be showcased.