Hauled up repeatedly by the Delhi High Court for the nauseating state of affairs in the kitchens in railway stations, pantry cars in trains including Shatabdis, Rajdhanis and those for the poor, the Indian Rail Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC) has been directed to take a series of steps to improve the quality and image of railway catering services.
A division bench headed by Chief Justice M.K. Sharma, which was hearing a PIL on the issue filed by lawyer Varun Goswami, put a stamp of approval on all the measures announced by IRCTC Manager Anil Gupta in an affidavit.
From now on you will be provided menu cards. Besides, menus will be pasted in all the compartments.
The menu card will also contain telephone numbers on which complaints regarding poor service and suggestions can be registered.
Private kitchens licensed to supply food and outsourcing food production without the IRCTC's permission will have their licenses revoked and fined Rs 1 lakh.
A fine ranging from Rs 5,000 to Rs 20,000 will be imposed on licensees overcharging, serving less than the stipulated quantity and supplying banned water pouches.
Change of menu
The Railway Ministry has formed a high-powered committee to recommend revision and rotation of menus, tariffs and to suggest standards for base kitchens.
Fifty-eight quality control professionals with diplomas and degrees in hospitality with at least two years of field experience have been recruited by IRCTC to supervise and assess the functioning of the licensees and immediately address grievances of passengers.
The corporation has taken steps to modernise the kitchen at New Delhi station that caters exclusively to passengers of Rajdhanis and Shatabdis- and those at Old Delhi station and Nizamuddin which have restaurants managed and run by the IRCTC. Regular use of gloves by the kitchen staff is being encouraged and an effective pest control programme implemented.
Two rounds of surprise checks by a High Court-appointed committee found the following at New Delhi, Old Delhi and Nizamuddin stations: dirty walls, uncovered food, exhaust fans out of order, litter and stench at all the kitchens. Committee member Varun Goswami said, “In a check on five trains some months later, cockroaches, chapatis rolled on filthy tables, grease and dirt were common.”