N.F.Railway has started a 3 week inspection drive of catering units’ w.e.f. 26.07.2017. Catering units include pantry cars, base kitchens and static units located at stations. In N.F.Railway there are seven base kitchens which are located at Dibrugarh, Guwahati, Kamakhya, New Coochbehar, New Jalpaiguri(2 nos) and Katihar. During inspection aspects like location, ISO certification, capacity, staffing, mechanization, cleanliness, hygiene, quality & quantity of food and other parameters are properly checked.
During the first week of the drive, as many as 18 pantry cars have been inspected during which a total of Rs. 2, 80,000/- has been recovered as penalty from the vendors for non adherence to standards laid down by railway authority. 4 base kitchens have also been inspected and a fine to the tune of Rs. 1, 00,000/- has been recovered from erring contractors. In additions to this 6 food stalls, 3 food plazas, 4 refreshment rooms and 1 Janahar unit has also been inspected and a sum of Rs. 1,82,000/- has been recovered as penalty.
It would be pertinent to mention here that as a part of New Catering Policy enunciated by Railway Board w.e.f. 27thFebruary, 2017 IRCTC has been mandated to carry out unbundling of catering services on trains by creating a distinction primarily between food preparation and food distribution. In order to upgrade quality of food preparation IRCTC will set up new kitchens and upgrade existing ones.
The salient features of the new Catering Policy 2017 are as under: -
* IRCTC to manage catering service on all mobile units. Pantry car contracts awarded by zonal railway to be reassigned to IRCTC.
* Meals for all mobile units to be picked up from the nominated kitchens owned, operated and managed by IRCTC.
* IRCTC not to outrightly outsource or issue licenses for provision of catering services to private licensees. IRCTC to retain the ownership and be fully accountable for all the issues pertaining to setting up and operation of the Base Kitchens and quality of food.
* IRCTC to engage service providers from hospitality industry for service of food in trains.
* The setting up/ development / refurbishment of new or existing Base Kitchens/Kitchen units to be undertaken by IRCTC.
A centralised Catering Services Monitoring Cell (CSMC) has been set up in Board’s office having a toll free number 1800-111-321 for prompt redressal of the passenger grievances related to the catering activities for real time assistance to travelling public. Further, on the same pattern Catering Services Monitoring Cells have been set up at Zonal and Divisional level for daily monitoring of the catering activities. Operation of all India helpline number 138 for rail users in the moving train. A twitter handle with the address of @IRCATERING has also been established to cater to the complaints/Suggestions. Indian Railway has been providing assistance to passengers on real time basis and prompt disposal of their grievance through social media is being taken.