College on Wheels: IRCTC to probe shoddy service
Nearly 500 students were provided accommodation at Royal Palms in Goregaon after their arrival in the city on November 24. But the rooms were smelly and unclean, bedsheets were stained, corridors did not have sufficient lighting and food was served on tables joined together in a single line
Mumbai: The Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC) has initiated an inquiry after university students from Jammu and Kashmir complained about boarding and lodging arrangements in Mumbai last week. The students, numbering around 700, were part of ‘College On Wheels’ or ‘Gyanodaya Express’, a train-based education initiative launched by the University of Jammu. The train was flagged of from Katra railway station in Reasi district, Jammu on November 19, and the railways was reportedly paid over ₹4 crore for the service.
According to sources, nearly 500 out of the 700 students were provided accommodation at Royal Palms in Goregaon after their arrival in the city on November 24. But the rooms were smelly and unclean, bedsheets were stained, corridors did not have sufficient lighting and food was served on tables joined together in a single line.
“The experience was really harrowing. The rooms were not clean and there were stains on bedsheets and a foul stench all around. The female students were feeling especially uncomfortable, and we had to request the hotel staff to arrange common bedding in the hallway where everyone could sleep together. Many could not sleep through the night. The experience in other cities was far better,” said professor Rajesh Singh, who accompanied the students.
On one occasion, when there was a power cut during dinner time, the students were forced to switch on torches on their mobile phones to finish their meals. Students complained about unwanted noises from other rooms which was brought to notice of the hotel staff. But nothing much was done. Singh and other professors also complained to the railway authorities, but to no avail.
On November 25, the students left the hotel and toured the city before proceeding to Bengaluru. The Gyanodaya Express is scheduled to traverse through multiple states with the aim of allowing students to discover themselves and explore diverse regions and cultures.
“If any shortfall in quality of service is reported, then necessary action will be taken against contractors as per the contract. There will be no compromise on the quality of service”, said KK Mishra, director (tourism), IRCTC. Sources in the IRCTC too said contractors would be pulled up if the allegations were found true.