Central Railway Bans Food Stalls On Platforms In Maharashtra

Imagine a scene when you are standing on any Indian railway platform. People waiting with their luggage to catch the train, a few passengers sitting on the platform with their bedsheets spread across because their train has been delayed for hours, and vendors selling hot cups of tea, breakfast, dinner, and snacks. You must have seen these hawkers running with the train as it is about to come to a halt at any railway station.

Video Credit: Aamchi Mumbai/ YouTube

However, this would no longer be the case in the premises of railway stations in the Pune division. According to a circular from Central Railway, cooking activities have been banned on suburban platforms, regardless of the mode of cooking food. 

This decision has been taken to ensure the safety of passengers as well as staff members. The authorities took this decision to prevent fire accidents after what the country witnessed at the ‘Jan Ahaar’ canteen in Lokmanya Tilak Terminus railway station, Kurla, Mumbai, in December 2023.

The circular also directed hawkers to cook using electrical appliances only on the premises of non-suburban stations only. Thus, it might bring bad news for vendors working around suburban railway stations from Pune to Malavali. The stations include Pune, Talegaon, Dapodi, Shivajinagar, Kasarwadi, Malavli, Chinchwad, Khadki, Begdewadi, Pimpri, Vadgaon, Akurdi, Dehu Road, and Kamshet.

Statement By Railway Officials On Bans On Food Stalls

However, Milind Hirve, Senior Divisional Commercial Manager, was quoted clarifying that at least 10 food stalls that have been operating outside the platform regions. The circulation only applies to the food joints that are operating on the Pune to Malavali platforms. 

Harsha Shah, president of the Railway Pravasi Manch, thinks otherwise. He was quoted by the media saying, “This is an unnecessary step and doesn’t make sense. If there are safety-related issues, they need to be addressed, but banning cooking activities will only cause unnecessary inconvenience for railway passengers. How long will food vendors have to prepare food and travel long distances within the platform.”

Food Stall Owners Are Not Happy

The Pune Division has directed fast food units, licensed food plazas, refreshment rooms, Jan Ahaar canteens, milk stalls, tea stalls, and other food stalls to shut down their businesses. According to reports, private food stall owners are not happy with this decision and are asking authorities to make alternate arrangements for them. 

The railway officials have also stated that the same rule applies to restaurants and hotels preparing meals under the jurisdiction of IRCTC (Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation). They will exempt restaurants that feature separate kitchens and operate a little far away from the platforms, thus, reducing risks of fire.

The manager of Food Express Services has confirmed that vendors have received the circular, and the orders have not been implemented yet. The outlet manager was quoted saying by a media house, “We received a circular regarding the ban on food stalls that are cooking food within the area of platforms, but we adhere to all safety precautions. We have our separate kitchen chamber where food is prepared.” 

The owner of Siddhivinayak Food Services affirmed that hotels operating on railway stations have separate kitchens where they prepare food. They have been operating within the safety guidelines.