Pune: The Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) of India has severely criticised the railways over the quality of food served at stations and on trains, saying in many cases, it is ‘unsuitable for human consumption’.
Punekars who travel by premium long distance trains said rail officials often ignored complaints about the quality of meals after wrongly assuming that passengers were being fussy. But CAG’s findings, which were tabled in Parliament on Friday, give the officials a chance to rethink about the food.
Ganesh Nagar resident Amit Singh, 30, who often travels to various places in India, said the report was not surprising, as he had never found the meals supplied by Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC) satisfactory.
“Many times on Jhelum Express and Pune-Gorakhpur express, chapattis are not made properly and the dal is served cold. If you are hungry, there’s no option but to eat the tasteless food,” he said.
Ashutosh Anand, a 32-year-old banking professional from Viman Nagar, is also a frequent traveller on express trains. “This one time, we were served dal which was so watery, that it cannot be called dal by any stretch of imagination. The dahi provided to passengers is always sour,” he said.
While the CAG report does not specifically mention IRCTC, it says at some catering units, unpurified water straight from the tap was used in the preparation of beverages, waste bins were not covered, and foodstuff was not protected from pests. The conditions were not better inside trains that the national auditor inspected: rats and cockroaches were found.
Rajan Sinha, a businessman from Wakad, said the railways should stop calling certain services as premium trains if they cannot improve the quality of food. “At times, the caterer increases the prices, saying a new curry has been introduced, but it’s never good. It feels like passengers are being ripped off,” he said.