Mumbai : The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation’s decision to ban street food stalls that function from footpaths across Mumbai will hit the average middle class Mumbaikar hard as street food, which is cheap and easily available, is most times the only lunch option a working person has.

The BMC on Thursday started a massive drive to clear illegal and makeshift eateries after municipal commissioner Ajoy Mehta’s circular on Tuesday. The drive was kick started on Thursday with the BMC clearing shops outside railway stations like Dadar, Andheri, Byculla, Bandra and CST.

A BMC spokesperson said, “We started with railway stations as shops are in clusters outside them and are the easiest to tackle. This drive will further expand to shops outside city schools, colleges, offices and chowpatty as well.”

However, Mumbaikars feel the civic body’s move will cause inconvenience to them. Many from Mumbai’s working class live alone or leave for work early in the morning so there is no time to carry packed lunch.

Rutuja Bende, who works at a travel agency in Fort said, “I eat out every day on some stall on a footpath. I spend about Rs 30 on lunch. Since the BMC has banned street food, I will not be able to afford spending over Rs 100 a day if I have to eat at a restaurant. I live as a paying guest and I cannot cook at home so the option of packed lunch is ruled out.”

Sonal Tripathy, who works at a beauty parlour at Dadar, noticed that the food stalls outside Dadar station were missing as she came to work on Thursday morning. When she took a lunch break at 1 pm and still did not see any food stalls, she began to wonder what had happened to them.

She said, “I did not know about this drive. I had to go hungry today afternoon. My lunch break is only 20 minutes long. Street food is available at every corner and its preparation is not time consuming. I cannot spare time to sit at a restaurant and order food.”

Shonali Sabherwal who is a city-based nutritionist said, “Banning street food is not the solution. The BMC should come up with ways to ensure hygiene is maintained at these stalls. There is little option to eating out these days.”

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