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Rs 1-lakh fine for rail roach

New Delhi, Aug. 3 (PTI): The Indian Railways Catering and Tourism Corporation has been fined Rs 1 lakh after a cockroach was found in food served in the Calcutta Rajdhani last month.

Railway authorities have cracked the whip by slapping heavy fines totalling Rs 11.50 lakh on nine caterers, including its subsidiary, for serving “bad quality” food in trains.

“We had launched a special drive last month to detect quality of food being served in different trains. We found bad quality food in some trains and action was taken against caterers accordingly,” a senior railway ministry official said.

Besides the IRCTC, RK Associates, Sunshine Caterers, Satyam Caterers and Brandavan Food Products were among those fined, the official said.

“IRCTC was fined Rs 1 lakh as a cockroach was found in the food in Calcutta Rajdhani on July 23,” the official said, adding, “bad food was found in 13 trains”.

Besides the Rajdhani, other trains covered during the special drive included Paschim Express, Pushpak Express, Motihari Express, Shiv Ganga Express, Golden Temple Mail, Netravati Express, Punjab Mail, Howrah-Amritsar Mail and Chandigarh Shatabdi.

While in some trains the food was kept in unhygienic conditions, in others it was either found to be stale or substandard, the official said. Fines ranging from Rs 50,000 to Rs 1 lakh have been imposed.

“A caterer would lose licence, if found at fault five times,” the official added.

Plagued by a number of complaints, the railways have made a concerted attempt to improve quality of food being served in trains.

Railway minister Sadananda Gowda had announced in the rail budget that a course correction would be made in the catering service to address the problem.

According to the plan, top caterers like the ITC, MTR and Haldiram have been roped in to serve pre-cooked food in trains on a trial basis. Six trains, including three premier ones (Rajdhani, Duronto and Shatabdi) have been selected for introduction of pre-cooked food by ITC, MTR and Haldiram.

Items like chicken Chettinad, Hyderabadi biryani, sambar rice and rajma chawal are among the dishes to be offered.