Patna, Aug. 5: Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC) has written a letter to the railway board a day after it was penalised with Rs 1 lakh after a cockroach was found in food served aboard the Calcutta Rajdhani last month.
In its letter, the IRCTC stated that the railways should not treat them as licensee agency and it was the railways, which do not keep its coaches clean. The agency has cited the memorandum of understanding (MoU) signed between the Indian Railways (IR) and IRCTC on January 17, 2007.
Railway authorities had cracked the whip by slapping heavy fines totalling Rs 11.5 lakh on nine caterers, including IRCTC, for serving “poor quality” food in trains.
A senior official of IRCTC, New Delhi headquarters, told The Telegraph: “We have written a letter to the railway board in which we have told them not to treat us as licensee agency. The IRCTC is very much part of the Indian Railways and it was clearly mentioned in the MoU signed. As per the MoU, the IRCTC is a special purpose vehicle (SPV) made by the ministry of railways.”
A senior official of railway board in New Delhi said it has received the letter and within one month they will send a reply to the IRCTC.
Besides the IRCTC, RK Associates, Sunshine Caterers, Satyam Caterers and Brindavan Food Products were among those penalised. On July 20, a woman passenger on the Calcutta Rajdhani claimed she found a cockroach in her meal served at Mughalsarai.
About the other details mentioned in the letter, the official added: “We have also mentioned that the cleaning is not done by the IRCTC but the railways. The IRCTC is an expert in catering. It was railways, which do not keep the coaches clean. The IRCTC has demanded that at the time of cleaning the coaches, our officials should be allowed to be present to monitor the cleaning process.”
Last year, the parliamentary standing committee on railways, in its report presented to the Lok Sabha, had expressed their disappointment with the railways for not spelling out concrete measures for maintaining cleanliness and hygiene in trains and at stations.
Indian Railways had decided to stop the catering service of the IRCTC on Rajdhanis and tenders have been floated to appoint a fresh agency for the job. However, the IRCTC is still serving food in trains unless the fresh agency is not selected.
“Just penalising the IRCTC will not cover the fault of railways and the most important part has not done anything in terms of implementing the catering policy, 2010, which clearly says that base kitchens and mobile catering is to be managed departmentally by the railways. The catering policy was announced four years ago and not being implemented till now on ground level,” said the official.
Catering policy comes after every five years and the next would come in 2015.