While the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) is confiscating illegal liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) cylinders from roadside eateries, it is concerned about safely storing these cylinders due to their hazardous nature. Having seized around 1,200 LPG cylinders so far, the PMC has now requested distributors of LPG cylinders to either reuse them or empty and return them.
Roadside eateries have been mushrooming in the city with over 5,000 such establishments according to statistics from the PMC’s anti-encroachment department. At these eateries, food is cooked on the road using gas cylinders posing a threat to customers and pedestrians. Madhav Jagtap, deputy municipal commissioner of the anti-encroachment department, said that as per the PMC’s vendor license, food is not allowed to be cooked at roadside eateries which are only allowed to sell packed food. Hence, the PMC has taken action against roadside eateries where food is being cooked in the open by confiscating their LPG cylinders.
Jagtap said that the seized cylinders have been currently stored in open godowns however storing them is dangerous because most of them are full. The PMC has held a meeting with officials of LPG cylinder distributors, requesting them to either empty and return the cylinders or reuse them as it is challenging to store them in godowns.
An official from the anti-encroachment department said that there are 13 godowns located in the suburban areas of the city, covering an area of one to four acres. The cylinders are stored in these godowns, most of which are in open areas. However, the presence of people around makes it difficult and hazardous to store the cylinders.
The official also referred to a 2018 Bombay High Court (HC) order, which addressed the issue of roadside food vendors not paying taxes and using illegal water and electricity. However, the civic corporation did not take any action against them as highlighted in the writ petition. In 2018, the Bombay HC reprimanded the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) for allowing roadside vendors to use cylinders for cooking, despite the ban on roadside cooking. The court directed the civic body to take action against illegal roadside eateries where food is cooked in the open, based on a writ petition filed by the Indian Hotels and Restaurants Association.