Worm welcome! Live insect in passenger’s breakfast costs Indian Railways Rs 10,000
A live insect dished out to a passenger with her breakfast on board the Kalka-New Delhi Shatabdi proved to be expensive for Indian Railways as it was ordered by the Chandigarh Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum to pay her Rs 10,000 as compensation.
The catering and tourism department of the railways was also directed to refund Rs 270 catering charges for the breakfast to the Sector 21 resident as part of the ticket price.
Shalini Jain, travelling with her two sons on July 3, 2016, from Chandigarh to New Delhi, was shocked to see a live insect inside the food pack served to her aboard the Shatabdi. Though she pointed it out to the catering staff, nothing was done about it and she returned all the food packets to them, including that of her sons, as she did not want them to eat the “unhygienic and unhealthy” food, Jain submitted in her complaint.
It was also stated in the complaint that the staff offered Jain another pack of food, but she and her sons did not accept it . Also, when she asked the train staff, including the train ticket examiner (TTE) to provide her the register to lodge a complaint, they did not give it to her.
Following the incident Jain said she had even sent a complaint to the Railway Minister on October 12, 2016, but no reply was received.
It was submitted to the consumer disputes forum that Jain had filed a complaint as the Railways’ Act forced sale of meals on passengers as per pre-decided menus and served “unhygienic, infested and unpresentable meals during the journey,” which amounted to unfair trade practice and deficiency in service.
While other allegations were denied, the Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation denied that they had no role in providing the catering service on the train (No12006 – Kalka New Delhi Shatabadi Express) and that the catering service on the said date was provided by a service provider engaged by Northern Railway, as per the Catering Policy 2010.
Besides directing the Indian Railways to pay the compensation, the forum also observed “ …. despite detail instructions, as contained in the revised Catering Policy, 2010, circulated by Commercial Circular NO.35/2010 by Government of India, no effective steps have been taken by most of the Railway Zones to uplift the quality of service of food to the passengers on board”.
The forum also said, “This is a serious lapse on the part of the Catering Officials especially Supervisor, who miserably failed to supervise the preparation and service of food to the passengers on train. The complainant has paid Rs 270 as catering charges, but could not eat the meal and suffered a lot and even her little kids were deprived of meals during the journey.”