CAG report criticises Railways for contaminated, recycled foodstuff
CAG criticised the flawed catering management policy of the Railways.Updated: Jul 21, 2017 23:11 IST
Pointing out that an iron nail had been in the plate of cutlets offered to a passenger travelling on the Lucknow- Anand Vihar terminal double decker last year, the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) has slammed the Indian Railways for serving food articles “unfit for human consumption” such as recycled, contaminated and expired items and unauthorized water brands.
In a joint inspection conducted in collaboration with officials of the Indian Railways at 74 stations and 80 trains between July and October 2016, the country’s top audit body observed grave deficiencies in the food hygiene standards, including fungal growth around the “petha” (sweets) pieces served to passengers.
Cockroaches, rats, insects and dust was noticed in the pantry cars of the premier Duronto trains, while 100 unsold ‘parathas’ were found in the base kitchen of the North Central Railways for reuse and recycling, while numerous such discrepancies were noticed on different trains and stations: Buckets of drinking water and beverages kept in the vestibule near the toilet area in the Paschim Express – uncovered food items kept on the floor at the Chapra station.
In its 13th report presented in parliament on Friday, the CAG has criticised that the flawed catering management policy of the Railways, observing that contractors were paying a major portion of the contract amount as license fee to the zonal railways, leaving a small margin of the contract value for providing catering services.
The report points out that – as against the prescribed percentage of 10% - the percentage of license fee ranged from 10-20% in 29 trains and 21-50% in 69 trains, while this was more than 50% and touching a high of 90% in 25 trains.
“As the contractors have invested such high amounts, they try to recover the same from passengers by charging higher prices”, the report says, while regretting that the Railway Board was yet to prescribe a methodology to review and not accept unworkable tenders.
Referring to the problem of cartelisation, the report pointed out that – of the 254 contracts awarded until December 2015 – 33 contracts (10%) had been awarded to only two firms: Ms R K Associates and Ms Hoteliers Private Limited. A firm called Ms Brandavan Food Products had been awarded 25 contracts across railway zones.
“By not following the ceiling limit prescribed for award of contracts, Railways promoted monopolization by few firms. Monopolization leads to compromise in quality and services offered to passengers”, the report said.