The Indian Institute of Technology in Bombay on Monday withdrew restrictions from the sale of non-vegetarian food at a popular eatery on the campus, PTI reported. A notice on January 20, prohibiting such food from Civil Café, had led to anger among students.
The institute clarified that it does not discriminate based on food preferences. It also reiterated what it said on Sunday, that the notice to disallow non-vegetarian food at Civil Café was for reasons of food safety.
“The letter issued to the caterer was in the context of stale food and to ensure that no cooking is allowed in the academic area,” the institute said in a statement. “The preemptive action was in the interest of health and safety of the users.”
The decision to revoke the ban on meat and eggs was made on Monday during a meeting attended by the civil engineering department head, deputy director of the institute and other faculty members, the Hindustan Times reported.
“The decision to disallow non-vegetarian food at this café was to ensure that students do not end up eating stale food,” an unnamed official said. “However, students have not taken it in the right spirit. Non-vegetarian dishes will be served at the café as usual. In the meantime, we will conduct an audit on the café.”
The Civil Café, on the terrace of the department’s building, is open to students and faculty of all departments.
On January 20, less than a week after the management of Hostel 11 on campus asked its residents to use separate plates for non-vegetarian food, the Civil Engineering Department had amended the norms to run the Civil Café.
It informed the contractor that runs the cafeteria that “non-vegetarian items are strictly banned and should not be served”. The reason, explained in the notice, was that “some people raised objections to serving non-vegetarian food, including egg items”.
However, a spokesperson told the Mumbai Mirror and The Times of India on Sunday that the changes were prompted by concerns about safety, especially after the fire at two resto-pubs in Mumbai’s Kamala Mills compound on December 28, 2017.
“This is the only terrace cafeteria we have, and it is not fit for cooking,” she told The Times of India.
There were concerns about the non-vegetarian items spoiling, as well. “Some students even complained of food poisoning,” she explained. “The non-vegetarian food is brought in the morning and kept till evening. Since it gets spoilt faster and is a major cause for food poisoning, the department has banned it.”