Bhubaneswar: The state-run vegetable kiosks under the initiative ‘Udyaan Fresh’ are in a pathetic state, to say the least. Aimed at providing people with fresh vegetables at reasonable prices, the outlets present a picture of neglect, thanks to under-stocking, inferior quality and unsatisfactory service.
On the recommendations of Horticulture Department, the state government had opened 13 of these Udyaan Fresh outlets in Bhubaneswar and two in Cuttack in 2013. But poor response from people has forced many of these kiosks to close down and only three are operational presently.
“Initially, I used to buy my vegetables from these outlets and I thought this was a brilliant idea by the government. However, the quality of their products started degrading and their prices from a retail shop or a street vendor didn’t vary much,” said Aarti Jena, a student.
Aarti is not the only person to complain. Prashant Nayak who doesn’t compromise on quality when buying his daily stock has a similar view. “Produce brought from these stores wouldn’t last for two-to-three days and some days they would even run out of stock.” People’s dissatisfaction is evident from the fact that stores in Nayapalli, Unit 2 market, KIIT Square and Jaydev Vihar have few visitors. Explaining the reason for the project’s lack of success, an official at the Agriculture Department cited improper steps for vegetable preservation as the primary cause for its failure.
“The idea was to procure fresh vegetables from the farmers and provide them directly to the consumers. However, the daily produce procured would be dumped in open shelves and in cases of under sale the stocks were not preserved properly in stores, thus leading to degradation in freshness,” the official added. Besides the quality, consumers have also showed their discontent over the shop’s poor service. “During evenings there would be a lot of people and after shopping you had to stand in queues for long time and staff at times wouldn’t be cooperative,” said Krishna Das, a resident.
However, the official was optimistic about the initiative and stated that they are planning to revive the outlets and make it more customer friendly. “We have been in discussion with a few private agencies and necessary steps will be taken to make the project successful.