Realtors, IT-BPO units and educational institutes in Noida are helping the Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC) stay afloat after the public sector undertaking lost the train catering job to the railways in 2010.
Pradip Kundu, public relations officer, IRCTC, told Hindustan Times, "After the change in policy two years ago, we needed to innovate. We opened a state-of-the-art food factory with a capacity to provide 25,000 meals a day in Noida early this year."
"When we were the sole caterer for the railways, the annual turnover was more than Rs 300 crore. Our Noida project has got a very good response and now we want to do the same in other metros," he said.
There is a huge demand for fresh food at a reasonable price in Noida because it is home to about 300 IT-BPO units, where 1.5 lakh employees work, and 50 educational institutes where 20,000 students study.
The Delhi suburb is also a major real estate hub where dozens of builders operate to cater to the growing housing need.
As per the new Railway Catering Policy, 2010, IRCTC is in charge of catering on only a few trains such as Duranto, Farakka, Maitree (a train between India and Bangladesh), Kandhari and some Rajdhani trains. IRCTC is also operating Jan Ahar budget food outlets at some stations.
"We still have base kitchens at New Delhi, Howrah, Patna and Ahmedabad. But in order to stay afloat, we have set up the five-storey, 45,000 square-ft food factory in Noida," Kundu said.
"HCL, Samsung and Supertech are some of our major clients in Noida. The food comprising vegetarian, non-vegetarian and combo meals (Indian/Chinese) is produced with absolute cleanliness and hygiene using ultra-modern global technologies," he said. "We also have an in-house laboratory to ensure we provide safe, nutritious and tasty food," he said.
But it's not only about Noida alone.
"Already catering to central government offices in the Capital such Shastri Bhawan, Rajiv Gandhi Bhawan and Indian Institute of Public Administration, we also supply meals as far as to the Sanjay Gandhi Postgraduate Institute of Medical Sciences in Lucknow and Writers' Buildings in Kolkata," Kundu said.
The PSU has also tied-up with the north campus of Delhi University for supply of meals.