A passenger on the Howrah-bound Rajdhani Express was taken ill after dinner served by the Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC), which functions under the railway ministry.
Several passengers alleged that the food was stale and at least two of them lodged complaints with the IRCTC authorities. The dinner was prepared at the corporation’s base kitchen in New Delhi.
“We have ordered a probe. Food samples have been sent for test,” said Anuj Dutta, the deputy general manager (east) of IRCTC.
Salkia resident Piyush Saraf, who was taken to hospital after the train arrived at Howrah four hours behind schedule, said he had severe headache and abdominal pain soon after dinner which was served around 8.45pm. “I also vomited several times and had a stomach upset,” said the 29-year-old, who was travelling in a three-tier coach (B3).
Narendra Prasad Singh, a doctor who happened to be on the train, attended to Saraf as “there were no railway doctors around”. A section of passengers raised a hue and cry, prompting the train staff to contact Allahabad station.
When the train stopped at Allahabad after midnight, a railway doctor examined Saraf and gave him some medicines but his condition did not improve. To add to his woes, the train was running late by more than four hours following a blast on the tracks near Giridih in Jharkhand on Sunday.
As Saraf’s condition continued to be serious, the train made an unscheduled stop at Burdwan, where a doctor boarded coach B3 and accompanied the patient to Howrah.
On reaching Howrah at 2.10pm, Saraf was rushed to Railway Orthopaedic Hospital in an ambulance. “He was released after treatment. It seems to be a case of food poisoning but we can’t say for sure whether the Rajdhani food was the cause,” said one of the doctors at the hospital.
“The items, especially the daal and salad, were stale. They were emitting a foul smell,” alleged Alok Koley, who was travelling in B2.
“After we refused to touch the food, the railway staff took away the packets but did not replace them.”
Critical care expert Subrata Maitra said passengers, especially those travelling long distance, must eat light and avoid items such as salad that soon turn stale.
“One should also carry medicines for vomiting, diarrhoea, abdominal pain and acidity,” said Maitra.