Indian Railways food and water 'unsuitable for human consumption' says CAG report

Indian train meals not protected from rats, cockroaches, dust, insects, warn auditors

Archana Venkatraman

Travelling by Indian trains for long distances and thinking about buying railways food and water on your journey? Think again. A damning report by auditors found Indian railways food not hygienic or clean and not protected from flies, insects and dust, rats and cockroaches. Some items sold are beyond expiry date.

Indian railways meals unhygienic, warns CAG report
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Indian audit authority CAG (Comptroller and Auditor General) has blasted the quality and condition of food and water available for consumption for passengers travelling via Indian trains.

Auditors inspected 74 stations and 80 trains and found that cleanliness and hygiene were not being maintained at catering units at stations and in trains.

Other deficiencies highlighted were:

  • Food items were not covered to protect them from flies, insects and dust, rats and cockroaches
  • Unpurified water straight from tap was used to make teas and coffees on sale
  • Contaminated foodstuff, recycled foodstuff, expired items, unauthorized brands of water bottles, etc., were offered for sale on stations.
  • Food stuff served was less than the prescribed scheduled quantity
  • Unapproved packaged drinking water was sold
  • Waste bins were not found covered, not emptied regularly and not washed

The report also stated that bills were not given for the food items served in mobile units in trains. In addition, items were sold at the railway stations at maximum retail price with weight and prices different from the open market and per unit price of food articles sold in railway premises is significantly higher.

The detailed CAG report finds that many trains running for more than 24 hours for a single journey did not have self-sufficient pantry cars. The auditors concluded that "Indian Railways has changed its catering policy three times since 2005. Frequent change in catering policy and consequent transfer of responsibility to manage catering units from railways to IRCTC and back, have created a state of uncertainty in management of catering services provided to the passengers over the years."

The Indian Railways Ministry has said: " Catering has been a top priority for Indian Railways for Railways Minister Suresh Prabhu.

"We are working on many fronts to improve the catering services from inducting world class vendors thru PPP & adopting latest technology."


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