New Delhi: In a significant and innovative move, the Union Health Ministry in collaboration with the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs has requested States and Union Territories to develop 100 food streets in 100 districts across the country. This initiative is being taken up as a pilot project to create an example for other such streets to come up across the country for ensuring hygienic and safe food practices. The aim of this project is to encourage safe and healthy food practices among food businesses and community members, thus, reducing foodborne illnesses and improving overall health outcomes, said the Ministry of Health.
In a letter to states, Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan and Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs Secretary Manoj Joshi have highlighted that
Easy access to safe and hygienic food is vital for the good health of citizens. Safe food practices not only promote eat right campaign and food safety but will improve the hygiene credibility of local food businesses, boost local employment, tourism and in turn, the economy. It also leads to a cleaner and greener environment.
According to the Ministry of Health statement, this unique initiative will be implemented through National Health Mission (NHM) in convergence with the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs and with technical support from FSSAI. The financial assistance for the initiative to States/UTs in the form of Rs.1 crore per food street/district will be given to fill up critical gaps. 100 such food streets will be opened up in 100 districts across the country (List given below).
This assistance will be provided under National Health Mission (NHM) in the ratio of 60:40 or 90: 10 with the condition that standard branding of these food streets will be done as per Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) guidelines.
Municipal Corporations, Development Authorities and District Collectors at the state level will take major initiatives to ensure convergence in terms of financial resources and physical infrastructure. Various other initiatives such as training of food handlers, independent third-party audits, and certification of Eat Right Street Food Hubs ‘SOP for Modernisation of Food Streets’, have been taken to enhance food safety standards.
Schemes like “Support to Urban Street Vendors (SUSV)”, a component of Deendayal Antyodaya Yojana- National Urban Livelihoods Mission (DAYNULM), Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs have also been taken up.
In addition, States and UTs can also conduct training programmes for street vendors to orient them on aspects vis. food safety, maintenance of hygiene, and waste disposal, said the statement.
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NDTV – Dettol have been working towards a clean and healthy India since 2014 via the Banega Swachh India initiative, which is helmed by Campaign Ambassador Amitabh Bachchan. The campaign aims to highlight the inter-dependency of humans and the environment, and of humans on one another with the focus on One Health, One Planet, One Future – Leaving No One Behind. It stresses on the need to take care of, and consider, everyone’s health in India – especially vulnerable communities – the LGBTQ population, indigenous people, India’s different tribes, ethnic and linguistic minorities, people with disabilities, migrants, geographically remote populations, gender and sexual minorities. In wake of the current COVID-19 pandemic, the need for WASH (Water, Sanitation and Hygiene) is reaffirmed as handwashing is one of the ways to prevent Coronavirus infection and other diseases. The campaign will continue to raise awareness on the same along with focussing on the importance of nutrition and healthcare for women and children, fight malnutrition, mental wellbeing, self care, science and health, adolescent health & gender awareness. Along with the health of people, the campaign has realised the need to also take care of the health of the eco-system. Our environment is fragile due to human activity, which is not only over-exploiting available resources, but also generating immense pollution as a result of using and extracting those resources. The imbalance has also led to immense biodiversity loss that has caused one of the biggest threats to human survival – climate change. It has now been described as a “code red for humanity.” The campaign will continue to cover issues like air pollution, waste management, plastic ban, manual scavenging and sanitation workers and menstrual hygiene. Banega Swasth India will also be taking forward the dream of Swasth Bharat, the campaign feels that only a Swachh or clean India where toilets are used and open defecation free (ODF) status achieved as part of the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2014, can eradicate diseases like diahorrea and the country can become a Swasth or healthy India.