Friday, 21 July 2017

INDIA: Trains Serve Contaminated Food, Unpurified Water, Rats And Cockroaches Found On Trains

A joint audit by the Comptroller and Auditor General and the Railways has revealed alarming facts: contaminated and recycled food, unpurified water direct from taps and other edibles unfit for consumption is being served on trains and stations.

Rats and cockroaches were found in many of the 80 trains and 74 stations audited.

Proper menus and bills aren't being issued to passengers either.

While basics suffer, railways focuses on luxuries

This report comes a month after the railways introduced luxury food items from Domino's, KFC, McDonalds and more on select trains and stations.

It's not just food it is working on. In May, it announced it will launch a content-on-demand service to let passengers stream movies and TV shows while travelling.

But luxury has to come after basic services are made ideal.

A Comptroller and Auditor General audit report on the catering services in the Indian Railways, to be tabled in Parliament on Friday, has observed 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 that have created a state of uncertainty in management of catering services provided to the passengers. An inspection has revealed cleanliness and hygiene are not being maintained, bills are not being given for the food items served in mobile units in trains, besides several deficiencies in food quality.

During the joint inspection of the CAG team and the railways at selected 74 stations and 80 trains, the audit noticed that cleanliness and hygiene were not being maintained at catering units at stations and in trains.

Un-purified water straight from tap was used in preparation of beverages, waste bins were not found covered, not emptied regularly and not washed, food stuff were not covered to protect them from flies, insects and dust, rats and cockroaches were found in trains etc," the audit observed.

Neither were bills provided to passengers for food items served in trains, nor printed menu cards with tariff for the list of items sold in the mobile units were available with waiters and catering managers in any of the trains inspected.

Food stuff served was less than the prescribed quantity, unapproved packaged drinking water was sold,the report has said and pointed out that prices of food articles sold in railway premises was significantly higher than the open market.

A Comptroller and Auditor General audit report on the catering services in the Indian Railways, to be tabled in Parliament on Friday, has observed 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.

Articles unsuitable for human consumption, contaminated foodstuff, recycled foodstuff, shelf life expired packaged and bottled items, unauthorised brands of water bottles, etc., were offered for sale on stations, CAG noted.

The report says the mess has been created due to frequent policy changes and the failure of the Indian Railways to take effective steps to bridge the gap to provide necessary infrastructure in terms of base kitchens, static catering units, and automatic vending machines etc.

Blueprint for provision of catering services was not prepared in seven Zonal Railways. The policy of progressive switch over from gas burners to electric power equipment in pantry cars to avoid the occurrence of fire accidents in trains was not followed while manufacturing the pantry cars in Integral Coach Factory, Perambur,the report said.

Earlier this year, catering scam in Indian Railways had made headlines where items as small as curd had been bought at inflated prices.

Now, another malpractice going on in various trains have surfaced, where food is being served at an inflated price. Neelabh Khanikar, through social media, has brought another malpractice to the light.

Bareilly resident, Khanikar, was travelling from Duliajan to Dimapur on the New Tinsukia Rajendra Nagar Patna Express with his family, when he bought two plates of egg biryani.

Khanikar paid Rs 80 for each plate of biryani, but he grew suspicious and went to the pantry is asked for the menu. There, he found that actual price of one plate egg biriyani was Rs 63 instead of charged Rs 80.

Khanikar asked the person concerned why was he charged more than the given price. Since Khanikar was recording video of his conversation, no one spoke anything.

Khanikar was asked to stop recording and talk, but he refused, saying that he will bring the matter to the notice of Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu.

The officials say that they had overcharged by mistake, and didn’t realise the actual price of the food, finally agreeing to return the extra money to him.



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