NEW DELHI: Admitting that private food vendors were not providing satisfactory service, Railway minister Suresh Prabhu today said a new catering policy has been brought in, keeping this in mind.
"The food that was being served by private contractors was not living up to the expectation of the people, that is why there was a need to change the policy," Prabhu said in Rajya Sabha during the Question Hour.
Responding to concerns by members about the quality of food in trains, he said that under the new policy, RCTC would run the best mechanised kitchens, while a tender is being prepared as per which reputed professionals will cater to the passengers in the trains.
Efforts have been made that people get ethnic food, reflecting the diverse cuisine of the country, he said. Responding to a question about the food being provided on Ahmedabad-New Delhi Swarna Jayanti Rajdhani Express, the minister said between May 2016 and this February, 133 catering complaints were reported.
A total fine of Rs 9,55,000 has been imposed and Rs 83,000 has already been recovered by the railway during this period, against 104 complaints, he said.
"There were many complaints. I have issued orders and can, with satisfaction, say that we have terminated the contract of Ambuj Hotel and Real Estate Pvt Ltd, the company that was working," Prabhu said.
One of the members said that food in trains was being stored next to the toilets, to which Prabhu said that to lodge complaints related to food, a helpline has been set up. Complaints can also be made on social media, he added.
Prabhu also said that with regard to static units, one- third of the stalls will be reserved for the women.
"Parliament is yet to do it (reservation for women), but we have done it," he said, adding that these stalls will be given for 5 years and not for life as earlier.