MCC Health Department unaware! Not raids but inspection, claims Health Committee
Mysore/Mysuru: The special ‘hygiene inspection drive’ launched by the Public Health, Education and Social Justice Standing Committee of the Mysuru City Corporation (MCC) against hotels, eateries and other food outlets has angered the Mysuru City Hotel Owners Association which feels that the Committee is harassing them in the name of cleanliness, that too at a time when hotel business has just opened up after lockdown.
The Association has accused the Committee of being overzealous in their enthusiasm to ensure cleanliness. The Committee has no authority to inspect the quality of food served or take samples. They can only check the general hygiene of eateries. Going by the provisions of the Food Safety Act, only a qualified food analyst can collect food samples, the Hotel Association reasoned. Interestingly, the MCC Health Officers are not aware of any such raids conducted by the Committee.
“This is uncalled for as we have just opened our business and our industry has been the worst affected,” said C. Narayanagowda, President of the Association.
Hoteliers are fuming after the Standing Committee, comprising local Corporators under the Chairmanship of Usha Kumar and members Pradeep Chandra, V. Ramesh, Begum Pallavi, Reshma Banu, M. Chayadevi and Dr. Ashwini Sharath, inspected certain hotels including prominent ones for cleanliness.
Minister’s intervention sought
The Association has now submitted a memorandum to District Minister S.T. Somashekar urging his intervention. Responding positively to the Association request, Minister Somashekar has said that he would speak to the MCC not to conduct raids at this juncture.
“We are functioning as per the Government guidelines and not even a week has passed after there are some footfalls. We have already suffered huge losses and we have appealed to the MCC to revoke the 20 percent hike in renewal fee of trade licences. The MCC is also levying a 15 percent fine for the delay in paying renewal fee. These measures are uncalled for and detrimental to the hotel industry,” Narayanagowda told Star of Mysore.
“We end up paying 35 percent as tax and we are battling hard to stay afloat in the business in this pandemic time. Also, the inspection drives must stop. If at all there is no cleanliness, let the MCC give us notices and we will comply with rules. Actually we have not violated any rules,” he added.
Health officers in the dark
Reacting to the raids, MCC Health Officer Dr. D.G. Nagaraj said that the Committee decided on its own to conduct raids. “As per procedure, the Health Department must be notified first and if at all a raid must be conducted, there must be specific complaints of lack of hygiene. Here there is no such complaint and I have spoken to the Committee members and they have said that there are no such complaints,” Dr. Nagaraj said.
“It is not an official raid. Actually, the MCC Health Standing Committee has powers to inspect any hotel. But there is a procedure to be followed and the raids must be based on a particular complaint,” he added.
Member, Chairman react
Member of the Committee and Corporator Dr. Ashwini Sharath told SOM that she has to consult the Committee Chairman before reacting on the issue. But she admitted that they had indeed visited over six to seven hotels to check cleanliness.
Chairman of the Committee and Corporator Usha Kumar, however, said that they had found several violations in hotels. “When we inspected a couple of them, hotel staff were not wearing masks and not following COVID-appropriate behaviour and standard operating procedures. Some had stale food on the counters and at one hotel, food was being cooked in the cellar instead of the kitchen. These are not raids but just an inspection,” she claimed.