Minister of state for railways Adhir Chowdhury on Monday squarely put the blame for the Sealdah Rajdhani stale-food fiasco on a policy implemented by former railway minister Mamata Banerjee, because of which proper monitoring of food is not always possible.
The minister told that a change in policy was in the offing. “The existing catering policy came into being when Mamata Banerjee was railway minister,” said Chowdhury.
“This policy is responsible for the mess. We can’t change things overnight but discussions are on. A policy change is under consideration,” he added.
The railways may have taken over charge of on-board catering from the IRCTC under the catering policy of 2010 but officials say little has changed, as far as monitoring of services by private caterers is concerned. “Under the catering policy, Eastern Railway (ER) took over catering on the Howrah and Sealdah Rajdhanis,” said an official.
“There are few problems on the Howrah Rajdhani as on-board catering is handled directly by the railways and food is prepared at the base kitchens. For catering on the Sealdah Rajdhani, a tripartite agreement was signed between ER, IRCTC and a private agency.
The private agency prepares the food to be served to passengers. Monitoring is possible when the train starts from Sealdah as the ER headquarters are located in Kolkata. However, in the return journey, proper monitoring is not always possible,” he added.