India terminated 7 contracts, blacklisted 16 contractors, taken action against 21 officers to improve Catering Services

India terminated 7 contracts, blacklisted 16 contractors, taken action against 21 officers to improve Catering Services

NEW DELHI (INDIA):┬áNearly 23 Million passengers travel on Indian Railways on a daily basis. Indian Railways provide approximately 1.1 million meals to passengers every day out of these 1 million are provided on board itself.nnCatering services on Indian Railways can be classified into two broad categories viz. Mobile catering and static catering services. At present, there are 360 pairs of trains with pantry cars, which include 22 pairs of Rajdhanis, 25 pairs of Shatabdis, 18 pairs of Duronto trains and 295 pairs of mail/express trains. There are about 9686 Major and Minor Static Units on Indian Railways, which include 50 Jan Ahaars outlets, 224 Food Plazas/Fast Food Units.nnProvision of catering services to its passengers having diverse tastes and choices, on such a large scale, is an onerous task. There have been challenges to improve the catering services over Indian Railways and for the last three years not only an in-depth analysis has been undertaken to identify the root causes but also structural reforms have been initiated to solve the problem institutionally.nnThe in depth analysis revealed that unless the current policy was changed and contract frameworks completely overhauled, things would not change permanently. It was also realised that unless the quality of food at source is not controlled, onboard quality would not change.nnHence Minister Suresh Prabhu announced unbundling of Food production and Food disbursement through a revamped New Catering Policy. Under this policy, ultra modern kitchens ranging from mega to nano with partnership of private sector would be established which would use the most hygienic and latest equipment for food preparation.nnThe Minister in his first budget speech, had also announced the launch of E Catering services on train, which would allow passengers to order food from the brands of their choice.nn”Now you can order Pizzas or Burgers or even Dal Makhani on train. Interestingly such a service is not available in many railways of the developed world,” he added.nnHe also instituted a Zero Tolerance policy towards catering. In the last six months itself, we have terminated 7 contracts, blacklisted 16 contractors, taken action against 21 officers and imposed fines in excess of Rs 4.5 Crores.nnIn order to achieve the objective of improving quality of catering services in Indian Railways various steps have been undertaken in recent years. Here is a brief summary of the initiatives.

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