| The Jan Aahar stall at Patna Junction. Picture by Ranjeet Kumar Dey |
Patna, July 28: Complaints of poor quality food and irregular services have forced the Indian Railways to crack the whip on Indian Railways Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC).
According to sources, the railway board has decided to take away the charge of Jan Aahar stalls from IRCTC.
The Jan Aahar stall, popularly known as “janata meal”, was started by former railway minister Mamata Banerjee in February 2010.
The source said: “Within a month, the IRCTC will hand over the Jan Aahar stalls to the Indian Railways. This is being done according to the new catering policy 2010, which says that IRCTC should hand over the Jan Aahar at any cost within a month. The policy has been brought into effect from July 27, 2011. With this regard, the railway has also created 6,000 ex-cadre post in the catering department by which railway employees working in different departments will now look after the Jan Aahar stalls.”
About the reason for taking such a decision, the source said, “The Indian Railways has been getting a number of complaints from passengers regarding the quality of the food being served in Jan Aahar stalls. Some have even claimed that the IRCTC food is not hygienic. Many irregularities have been reported in their services. Initially, when the services began, the stall had acquired a good reputation for serving quality and healthy food but later on, it seems, the quality deteriorated, resulting in passengers fling complaints against the Jan Aahar meals.”
At present, East Central Railway has three Jan Aahar stalls — one each at Mugalsarai in Uttar Pradesh, Parasnath in Jharkhand and Patna in Bihar. When the railway takes over the charge of Jan Aahar, the IRCTC will be left with catering charge of Food Court, Food Plaza, Food Unit and Rail Neer. The IRCTC also serve food in Rajdhani trains.
According to sources, Jan Aahar generates a daily business of around Rs 30,000 for the railway as around 1,200 passengers eat at the stall. “I don’t know what went wrong that railway has decided to take away the stall from us. The IRCTC gives 15 per cent of profit to the railways but after this decision, IRCTC will lose around Rs 3 lakh per month.”