CHENNAI: Southern Railways (SR) has defended its decision not to allow a food plaza in the concourse of the Chennai Central terminal station as free movement of passengers is more important than having food outlets (that will restrict free movement) in stations.
A tussle between the Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC) and SR erupted when IRCTC called for renewed bids after the contract for running the plaza ended last year. A Chennai-based restaurant was awarded the contract, but weeks before the new plaza was to come up, SR demolished a wall around the plaza and widened the pathway for passengers.
IRCTC flouted due procedures, a Southern Railway official in the Commercial department told Express.
“The site was originally given to IRCTC 12 years ago when it was outside the station. Now it is inside. They were aware that SR laid great emphasis on the free movement of passengers, whose numbers have risen exponentially in the last decade. But they did not follow due procedures,” the official said.
The decision to shift the location of the plaza is final, according to SR officials and added that if IRCTC pulls out of the deal, SR would themselves invite tenders to construct a new multi-brand food plaza.
This will, however, take its “due course” which translates to a longer wait for a food plaza.
“There are other food-stalls at the Central. It is not as if that the plaza would have been the only outlet for food,” said a Southern Railway official, when asked about the further delay.
The possible financial and legal implications arising from a contract having already been awarded was not SR’s “headache and will have to be dealt with by IRCTC,” the official said.
Meanwhile, Express understands that a group of IRCTC officials from its Delhi headquarters met the Southern Railways General Manager and Chief Commercial Manager (CCM) on the issue, but they were merely apprised of the Southern Railways’ stance.
When asked about SR’s stance, IRCTC officials stated that talks were going on and refused to elaborate further.