Petha out of bounds at Agra stations

Last Updated: Jan 08, 2011, 13:12 PM IST

Agra: The famous Agra petha has disappeared from railway stations in this Taj Mahal city.

Buying a kilo or two of petha -- a sweet made out of sugar-soaked pumpkin -- has always been a must for passengers of trains that halt in Agra.

Thanks to a raging feud between the railway authorities and the company meant to sell petha at the stations, it is not available at the Agra Cantonment or Raja ki Mandi railway stations.

Some are still selling it at some of the smaller stations -- illegally.

"Train passengers are terribly disappointed," said a regular train commuter, Vishnu.

The authorities say the firm that was given the contract to sell Petha has not shown any interest and that the process of floating a new tender is on.

Divisional Railway Manager Devesh Mishra told IANS: "We are working out a formula to resolve the issue. But the private vendor who supplied petha has not responded and has in fact cheated the railways."

Mishra said he would consider involving the railway officers wives` association to organise the sale of Petha at the Agra Cantt station. "The proceeds can be used for socially useful activities."

The problem began six months ago.

"Agra`s identity all over India is because of the Taj Mahal and Petha. It is sad that the railway authorities have taken so much time to sort out this issue. They must ensure that petha is sold at railway stations," said Surendra Sharma, president of the Braj Mandal Heritage Conservation Society.

Every few days there are raids to catch hawkers and vendors who try to sell petha to passengers, supposedly illegally.

Earlier, the locally popular `panchi petha` was sold at the Agra stations. But after some dispute, the company withdrew and the formalities for a re-tender got deadlocked, according to a railway official.

The Petha manufacturers want delicening so that even smaller producers get a chance to sell their product at the stations.

So, when will the petha return to Agra`s railway stations?

IANS