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Railways catering clean-up gets going

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New Delhi: If you are one of those that travel long distance on a train and scared to eat from the pantry? This has been the case on the Indian Railways, as rotten food routinely gets served on board, catering staff is invariably rude and often these workers also seek tips after inflating prices of eatables, illegally.

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Well there is good news for you, if newly minted Railways Minister Piyush Goyal’s latest diktat is any indication, at least eating on the train may not be so heavy on the pocket from today. Even if the minister has as yet given no hint on how the food will be made edible or underweight packets tackled, what he has proposed to do about catering is a good start.

From today, Railways’ catering inspectors are supposed to fan out across the trains in order to check if the catering staff are asking for tips or over-charging for food.

There is no denying the fact that this is a welcome move though only partially addressing the huge catering rip off that passes off for service on Indian Railways. What is needed is a complete overhaul of the catering business to make eating on trains less hazardous. In a report titled ‘Performance audit on Catering Services Reports in Indian Railways’, the Comptroller & Auditor General had said in Parliament in the just-concluded Monsoon Session that not only did it find food sub-standard and hazardous for passengers’ health, its audit also found numerous instances when the weight of the food item was less than prescribed. Basically, passengers were charged more for less.

Taking into consideration the Para 2806 Indian Railway Commercial Manual, the quantity of cooked rice, rotis, vegetables etc. served should be according to the standard measurement prescribed by Railway Board/Zonal Railways and the price list given out before meals are served on a train indicates the measurement (gram for solid food stuff and ml for beverages like coffee, tea and soup) per unit.

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