Health license relaxation for eateries in New Delhi area

The New Delhi Municipal Council (NDMC) altered the requirement for granting health licenses to eateries within its area end of March this year, extending the renewal period from three years to five years, making the application process online, and allowing the employees to obtain their annual medical certificates from any government hospital rather than only the NDMC’s Food Handling Unit.

In an order dated March 31, the health licensing department states that 5 procedures were identified as “compliance burdens” with respect to the granting of health licenses, in which having a 3-year renewal period, permitting only NDMC’s Food Handler Units to issue medical certificates annually, payment of renewal and grant of the license by way of challan, and physically obtaining the license from the respective department was listed.

Now, eateries will be liable to renew the license every 5 years instead of 3, medical certificates can be obtained “from any government hospitals and tests report from CGHS/NDMC empanelled private labs in addition to NDMC”, the payment of fees for renewal and grant of the license will be done online and no physical challan would be required, and all processes, including the license would be made available online.

“This has been done to liberalise the procedure and reduce compliance norms, reduce harassment and delays. Now, the process can be completed in 15 days. After the documents are issued, health officials do an inspection. We recommend that the inspection happens 2 times a year, as new staff also join,” said a senior official of the licensing department.

Manpreet Singh, owner of the Zen restaurant at CP, and treasurer of the National Restaurant Association of India said that the changes will aid in saving time of the restauranteurs. “It will save a lot of time now that they have extended the renewal period to 5 years. In CP, there is often a lot of fighting between the tenants and landlords due to decades-long standing rental-ownership issues – and many tenants cannot provide rent receipts and other documents – and obtaining the NOCs from landlords is often very difficult.”

The staff of the eateries are also required to get medical certificates issued annually.

Food Handler Unit of the NDMC screens staff of eateries such as cooks and others for infectious and communicable diseases – such as typhoid, dysentery, diarrhoea, tuberculosis, cholera, and others – are inoculated and vaccinated, and regularly inspects the premises. This includes physical examinations, X-rays, and urine & blood tests. Inspectors also ensure that the staff maintains sanitary standards; that the premises have clean water and proper ventilation, utensils and furniture are kept clean, refuse is disposed of in bins, and latrines are not near eating places, among other requirements.

A senior official said, “The medical health certificates are important, as the staff need to be checked for various infectious diseases such as skin disease, TB and others, which are easily transmissible through food. The NDMC has a tradition of having its own fully functioning unit for only this purpose and conducts these tests. Now if they permit non-NDMC hospitals to issue certifications, it can be problematic, and difficult to ascertain if it is authentic.”

Singh added that despite the fact that NDMC’s Food Handler Unit is now not the only option available to them for medical certificates, it is the most convenient. “Personally speaking, we are used to the NDMC’s premises, and go there to get medical certificates issued annually. The cost is also approximately the same. We never really had a problem with that. The staff manages this on their own.”