Delhi’s famous Red Fort ground is currently the venue for at least 5 simultaneously ‘Ram Leelas’ being organized by different committees. While each of them has its own USP, visitors seem to throng the ‘Luv Kush Committee’s Ram Leela’ in far bigger numbers. Participation of Bollywood veterans like Shakti Kapoor and Asrani in this particular Ram Leela seems to have titled the visitors towards this particular option.
While I was about to reach the venue after a small walk from Chandni Chowk metro station, I still wasn’t sure about which entry gate to take for the ‘star-studded’ Luv Kush Ramleela. Just as I asked a rickshaw driver about which gate to enter through, a voice told me to take a right turn and then join the long queue to enter the venue. The voice came from a burqa clad lady, who was going to the same Ram Leela! It is in these small moments that you realize the joys of living in a secular country like India!
As expected, the entry queues were more than 15 meters long. As at any other Indian function, there were a few people approaching the security forces to let them in by ditching the queue ‘because they knew the organizers’. To the credit of security forces, they kept a customary stern face and didn’t allow any such entry.
It is only when you enter the venue do you realize that it is much more than a Ram Leela exhibition. With food stalls ranging from the Dominos Pizza to Old Delhi’s famous Chat Kachodi, you realize how generations’ old custom has undergone a commercial makeover. The food stalls are organized to suit the needs of all sections of visitors with cost for 2 ranging from Rs 100 to Rs 1,000 at different stalls!
Just when I was ordering a Pav Bhaji, a roaring laughter emerged from the background, ‘Raavan hun main, main hun Raavan!’. The show had begun! Expecting a huge crowd, the organizers had arranged close to 10,000 chairs for the audience to witness the extravaganza. Apart from the grand stage, 2 huge projector screens were set up on either sides of the stage to ensure that the visuals reach the entire audience. The other attractions for the visitors at the venue included rides like the Giant wheel and Columbus.
Despite people’s reducing affinity towards our cultural programs, Ram Leela has held its own. With people of all caste, religion and age coming together to witness one of India’s most celebrated mythological stories, it can truly serve as an inspiration to those who are after each others’ blood just because of their eating habits!
"If the food is surplus due to lower turnout of the guest and resultant less consumption, then it shall be the responsibility of organiser of the social function to remove that food from the social function site, immediately after the completion of the duration of that social function," it says.
The Delhi government has drafted a policy to keep a check on the wastage of food at social functions in the national capital.
All organisers and caterers will have to register themselves with NGOs to manage the surplus and leftover food for distribution among the underprivileged, says the draft policy.
“The caterer should make proper arrangements to handover fresh surplus and leftover food to these NGOs,” reads the Draft ‘Policy for Holding Social Functions in Hotels, Motels and Low-Density Residential Area (LDRA) in National Capital Territory of Delhi’.
According to the draft policy, the owner, organiser, and the caterer must have the necessary permissions including FSSAI license from Delhi’s Department of Food Safety, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare to run their kitchens or to sell or serve prepared food for the guest and the consumer.
“They should be registered with some NGO to manage surplus/leftover food by distributing the same among underprivileged. The caterer should make proper arrangements to handover fresh surplus and leftover food to these NGOs.
The food preparation should be according to the ceiling of the number of guests as per prescribed capacity of the motel and LDRA. The number of guests cannot exceed the guest limit approved by the Urban Local Body (ULB) for that function site, it says.
“If the food is surplus due to lower turnout of the guest and resultant less consumption, then it shall be the responsibility of organiser of the social function to remove that food from the social function site, immediately after the completion of the duration of that social function,” it says.
The Commissioner Food Safety shall ensure that the above conditions are strictly followed; any violation thereof would invite action from the deployed officers by the Commissioner Food Safety, the draft policy reads.
The rules will be enforced by periodical inspections, which shall be conducted by officers of various state stakeholder agencies.
“Further, officers of respective ULB will conduct random or complaint-based inspection. The violations would be noted with proofs by the inspecting officers without the disrupting the function. In the event of violation of any of the conditions, the penalty would be imposed against violators under specific act/rules/orders.”
“The capacity of the space should be determined by multiplying the total number of car parking available by four or by means the number of persons obtained by dividing the gross floor area of the premises by occupant load factor at 1.5 sqm, whichever is less,” says the document.
It said adding that the total number of days on which a social function can be organised are restricted to 120 days in authorized/approved spaces.
The draft also said that motels and LDRA should be constructed as per sanctioned building plan.
“Minimum area of LDRA must be equals or more than 2.5 acres. Only such Motel and LDRA houses should be permitted to hold social functions which have proper access to the road from a main road (60 ft wide or more) and the LDRA should not be located at a road which ends in a dead end,” it said.
According to an official from the government, the decision to formulate a comprehensive policy regulating social functions was taken after the direction of the Supreme Court.
“Further, in view of Motel Policy of Ministry of Tourism 1995, policy for holding social functions in Farmhouses of Government of NCT of Delhi, Master Plan 2021(MPD 2021), amendments in MPD-2021 notified in 2013, a comprehensive policy was required to be drafted,” the official told IANS on the condition of anonymity.
The Chief Secretary has constituted a committee of four officers, including Principal Secretaries of Urban Development and Health, Chief Executive Officer, Delhi Jal Board and Member Secretary, Delhi Pollution Control Committee, to draft the policy.
“Accordingly, the committee after consultation with all stakeholders drafted the policy keeping in mind concerns of Environment Pollution (Prevention and Control) Authority (EPCA) and Supreme Court such as stop the use of perennially installed semi-permanent pandals, nuisance of parking on outside road of the venue, safety of guests and general public, stop the misuse of scarce resources like water and stop any kind of pollution or degradation of Environment,” the official said. (IANS)