Zee Media Bureau/Ritesh K Srivastava
New Delhi: After several complaints of bad quality food being served in trains, the Indian Railways has now decided to change its catering policy to improve the quality of food provided in premium trains.
It was reported on Friday that region-wise food will be provided in special trains like the Rajadhani, Shatabdi and Duranto under Indian Railways` new catering policy.
This implies that regional cuisines like chicken chettinad, dhokla or chila etc will be on the menu for passengers of these special trains.
Pre-packed, ready to eat meals will be introduced while welcome drinks will also be served. The railway authorities have decided to ban the sale of tea, coffee, soft drinks, tetra packs and other snacks in the train. A circular to this effect has also been issued.
The Indian Railways` new catering policy lays special emphasis on cleanliness in pantry cars.
The Indian Railways has also decided to utilise the services of renowned food chain giants like Haldiram for providing good quality food in trains. Initially, Haldirams will supply vegetarian food in the Karnataka Express and Paschim Express, while ITC will supply both vegetarian and non-vegetarian food in the Bangalore-Ahmedabad Express.
In the event of a positive and encouraging feedback from the passengers, the new catering policy will be implemented in other trains as well. Other reputed brands like Godrej, Vadilal and Tysen Food are also competing to get catering contract from the Indian Railways. The government is considering allowing them to cater to other trains after 15 days.
The authorities recently fined nine caterers, including the IRCTC, for serving poor quality food in premium trains. In one of the cases, a cockroach was found in the food served in the Kolkata Rajdhani.
Besides Indian Railways Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC), RK Associates, Sunshine Caterers, Satyam Caterers, Brandavan Food Products were among those fined. Besides Kolkata Rajdhani, other trains covered during the special drive include Paschim Express, Pushpak Express, Motihari Express, Shiv Ganga Express, Golden Temple Mail, Netravati Express, Punjab Mail, Howrah-Amritsar Mail and Chandigarh Shatabdi.
During the surprise inspection, the authorities found substandard and stale food kept in unhygienic conditions being served in some of these trains. The official after taking the food samples slapped fines ranging from Rs 50,000 to Rs 1 lakh on the contractors for those trains.
The move is being seen as a concerted attempt by the Indian Railways to improve quality of food being served in trains. Union Railway Minister Sadananda Gowda had announced in the Rail Budget to make course correction in catering service to address the problem.