The Dasara Food Festival which was inaugurated on 5th of this month at the sprawling 4-acre land belonging to the Scouts and Guides, behind DC’s office, will close tomorrow, Oct. 12, Saturday.

In the past, the Dasara Food Festival showcasing varieties of food from all over the State used to be held at the old Palace Office (now CADA office) premises in an area of half-an acre. Because of the space constraint and congestion neither many would participate nor all sections of the people patronise the place, specially women and children. Despite requests from the organisers to shift the location to a wider ground like the present one, the DCs in the past refused on the specious reason the CADA premises was central and close to the Palace and the exhibition ground, hence ideal. Luckily this year permission was given to shift the location to the vast area of Scouts and Guides ground. However, looking at the milling crowd of people patronising the fairs available, even this four-acre area seems inadequate.

The Police should be complimented for their imaginative system of regulating the flow of traffic from both ends of the road running along the mela ground. No hassles and those on duty were seen guiding the drivers properly to the waiting and parking areas. This is great help for self-driven car owners. Unlike at the CADA office, here there is lot of parking space too.

M. Rajendra, President of the Dasara Food Festival Sub-Committee who is also the President of the Hotel Owners Association, heads the 25-member Committee. He has been the President of Dasara Food Festival Sub-Committee for the last three years. This is his fourth year as President and is doing a good job, though there is much scope for improvement. Of course, he knows it but says ruefully, “what more can I do with just Rs. one-and-a-half lakh budget?”

This year Rajendra seems satisfied. “In the past while we were in CADA premises we could accommodate only 40 stalls. But here this year we have more than 180 stalls. And see the rush and how every stall is patronised by the people,” says Rajendra with some pride and satisfaction. And he does not seem wrong.

Rajendra defines the purpose of holding this kind of Food Festival saying, “It is not for making profit for the Committee, but to showcase varieties of food both traditional and modern eaten in various parts of Karnataka. A sort of State integration through food,” he laughs and does not forget to add, “we have taken care of the rate-list of each stall where the items are sold at a reasonable rate. What you get here for Rs. 50 a portion, for example, you end up paying Rs. 100 and more elsewhere.”

However, this claim is vehemently refuted by Chennagalli Lingaraju of Srirangapatna, who visited the Food Festival. According to him, the Mutton Biryani of 100 gms available in road-side hotels with four pieces costs Rs. 25 while it costs Rs. 40 with just two pieces.

Rajendra says, the Committee received over 500 applications for stalls and it was difficult to choose from such a huge number to accommodate them in the available space. The stall rent for the seven day food mela was a mere Rs. 8,000 and Rs. 5,000 depending on the size. However, wherever poor applicants and widows wanted stalls, some concession was given as in the case of Chennamma from Haveri, who wanted a stall to sell, Jolada Rotti, roasted flat bread made of millet. The stall owners are provided with free water and electricity. Rajendra was sure each stall owner must have made good profit this year. That was also the statement of a few stall owners when this writer talked to them.

However, there were some areas where the Organising Committee could pay attention to like water-spraying the open ground to douse the dust raised by so many walking around, carpet an area of about 50 feet all along the frontage of the stalls, provide huge garbage-bins in front of every four stalls in a visible colour, yellow, for example. Blue colour is not visible in the dim light and also in the crowd. Rag-pickers should be appointed during the open-hours of the food stalls.

And most important, the toilets. For that kind of mixed crowd of thousands, the toilets most be in sufficient number, maintained 24x7 with attendants always present, with enough water.

The sign board showing the directions of toilets too must be put up in at least 4 or more places for such a vast area with toilets located not just in one far-away corner as now but in at least two or three locations.

Tomorrow the Food Festival will end but this year’s experience is bound to have positive impact for the next Dasara with more participants and more crowd. It will be advisable to make three exclusive areas for each kind of food — Ice cream and chats; non-vegetarian and vegetarian.

Courtesy : Star Of Mysore