If a recent audit report by the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) is anything to go by, then one should watch out for what one consumes while travelling on an Indian train.
The report on the Indian Railways’ catering services, has claimed that food items "unsuitable for human consumption” — adulterated food, packaged eatables and bottled products, and unsanctioned brands of bottled water were being sold at stations.The CAG report was tabled in Parliament on Friday.
According to the CAG report, frequent changes in the catering policy of the Indian Railways have resulted in unreliable services being offered to the travelers. CAG said even the new policy is not clear on how zonal railways will be held accountable.
The report says an investigation by the CAG revealed that hygiene was not maintained, bills are not provided to passengers and that there were several deficiencies in food quality. The inspection was conducted at 74 stations and 80 trains.
"Unpurified water straight from tap was used in preparation of beverages, waste bins were not found covered, not emptied regularly and not washed, food stuff were not covered to protect them from flies, insects and dust, rats and cockroaches were found in trains etc,” the audit report said.
The audit found food articles were either contaminated or being recycled with packaged and bottled items being sold way past their shelf life and bottles of water by unauthorized manufacturers on sale.
"Articles unsuitable for human consumption, contaminated foodstuff, recycled foodstuff, shelf life expired packaged and bottled items, unauthorised brands of water bottles, etc., were offered for sale on stations," CAG noted.
The CAG report noted that the prices of materials sold at railway stations were significantly higher than that of the same items being sold on the open market. It also reportedly noted a failure on the part of the Railways in providing the necessary infrastructure.