Bhubaneswar Municipal Corporation (BMC) will not float tenders for stalls at the Khandagiri Kumbha Mela this year following allegations that the private agencies, who were given the contract in the past to set up stalls, sold the shops at exorbitant prices to poor vendors.
Instead, vendors, who had set up stalls, would be allotted space if they furnish last year's land allotment receipts this time. "We will not float tender this time. BMC will directly provide space to vendors. Many poor traders had complained against private agencies," BMC mayor A N Jena said. The 10-day annual fair would be held on the foothills of Khandagiri from February 17.
Before opting for the tender system, BMC used to allot land on a first-come-first-serve basis. But this gave rise to resentment as some people got more space while others were left with little land. There were allegations that some locals sold their stalls to others at higher prices after getting the space from BMC. The tender system came into vogue in 2010.
About 450 makeshift stalls, each measuring 8x8 sq ft, would be erected on both sides of the road connecting NH-5 to the Khandagiri hills. Jena denied there will be any upward revision in stall licence price this time. Even the licence fee collected from jatra (opera) operators would remain unchanged. "We will collect very reasonable price from vendors and jatra organizers," he said.
Last year, BMC generated nearly Rs 11 lakh from stall licences and parking lots.The civic body will set up a temporary office at the fair venue where health and food inspectors would be deployed to examine the food quality in eateries.
The stalls are expected to have uniform colour and design. "Last time we had appealed to the vendors to do up their stalls in uniform design and colour but they did not comply with it. This time we will pursue it more seriously," the mayor said.