July 21st, 2017
A Comptroller and Auditor General audit report on the catering services in the Indian Railways is intended to be tabled in Parliament on 21 July, according to reports by Times of India. The report has come up with the observation that food articles unsuitable for human consumption – contaminated foodstuff, recycled foodstuff, packaged and bottled items past their shelf life and unauthorised brands of water bottles – were offered for sale at stations.
The audit has found fault with frequent changes in catering policy of the railways which has led to a state of uncertainty in the management of catering services provided to the passengers. The catering plans have undergone through three changes since 2005; the latest one being that in February 2017.
An inspection has revealed cleanliness and hygiene standards are not up to mark; bills are not provided for the food items served in mobile units in trains, besides the falling standards of food.
The joint inspection of the CAG team and the railways selected 74 stations and 80 trains after which this report was prepared.
“Unpurified water straight from the tap was used in the preparation of beverages, waste bins were not found covered, not emptied regularly and not washed, food stuff was not covered to protect them from flies, insects and dust, rats and cockroaches were found in trains, etc.,” the audit reportedly observed.
The CAG Report pointed out the quantity of the food served was inadequate and that unapproved drinking water was also sold.
The report says the situation has been worsened due to frequent policy changes. Along with this, the Indian Railways has been incompetent to take effective steps to bridge the gap to provide necessary infrastructure regarding base kitchens, static catering units, and automatic vending machines, etc.
The Logical Indian Take
Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC) is the world’s fourth-largest network which provides meals to about 11 lakhs passengers daily.
The abysmal conditions of the service have been a point of botheration for the passengers for a long time. Filing RTIs have also not proved to be helpful in situations like these.
Even though there have been initiatives by the Indian Railways of letting people know the right prices of the food, confusion and dissatisfaction continue.
The Logical Indian urges the Indian Railways to take this matter seriously and strive to provide better facilities for its customers.