Contaminated ice and cut fruits continue to be sold in the city streets despite the Kolkata Municipal Corporation (KMC) conducting several raids against food and water vendors selling such items which are highly consumed during summer time.
It is observed that cut and peeled fruits are being sold in different parts of the city despite the civic body prohibiting the concerned vendors in doing so.
Contaminated ice are being used in lemonades sold by roadside vendors, claimed a KMC health department official. He further pointed out that the ice which is being used by the vendors is used for industrial purposes.
At times they are bought at cheap rates from the mortuaries where they are used to preserve corpses. Vendors in and around the city can be seen selling fruit salads in unhygienic conditions.
These food items which are being sold at Esplanade and Dalhousie are replete with such fruit sellers. “The fruit vendors keep such items uncovered exposing the items to dust and flies,” said Manjusree Roy who was shopping in New Market.
“A checking drive is necessary against the vendors who sell uncovered eatables,” added Roy. “With the increase in temperature, the risk of infection is also high.
The citizens need to be careful about what they consume daily. Cut and exposed fruits are often contaminated by e.coli, virus responsible for food poisoning.
Fruit juices can also get contaminated, if the glasses in which it is served is not washed properly. The fruit vendors rarely wash their hands or knives before cutting them,” said Dr Meenakshi Dutta, a nutritionist.
An unhygienic cycle of unsafe drinking water and ice continues to run undisrupted at a large scale.
Although the authorities claim to have taken stringent measures against unsafe packaged drinking water suppliers, their business continues to thrive.
Rajan, an ice block seller who sells a quarter of ice for Rs 60 near Espalande Tram Depot, said: “The local lemon water sellers and juice sellers, beverage sellers like lassi, sharbat and ice gola sellers are my customers.”
Giving a similar account, Rahman, a mint water seller near New Market, said: “Being a small vendor, my income is insufficient to afford costly ice cubes and hence we buy the ice blocks which are cheaper. If the government bans the use of ice blocks, we will not be able to survive.”
A similar grievance was expressed by Bijoy Yadav, fruit seller in New Market. He said: “The measures the KMC has taken is to just to cut out earnings. Poor fruit vendors like us work hard whole day. If they impose such restrictions then we will starve to death.”