New Delhi: In a major setback to the Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation Ltd (IRCTC), the Railways have decided to strip the public sector unit (PSU) of its catering responsibilities in Rajdhani, Duronto, Shatabdi and all other mail and express trains, reports PTI.
The Catering Policy-2010 finalised by Railways have clearly spelt out that 'Railways shall progressively take over management of all mobile catering services including base kitchens, pantry cars and all food stalls in railway premises'.
At present, IRCTC, a Railway subsidiary, is responsible for serving food in about 300 trains including in premier trains like Rajdhani, Duronto and Shatabdi.
With this move, IRCTC will forgo at least Rs200 crore catering business, said a senior IRCTC official.
Railway Board will now determine the menu and tariff for the standard meals, breakfast, tea, coffee and catering charges for meals, which are included in the fare.
The new policy comes in the wake of increased passenger complaints about the quality of food served onboard trains and in stations.
IRCTC will now be responsible for selling e-ticket and i-ticket and running the Rail Neer business.
Besides, it will manage Food Plaza, Food Courts, and fast food units. However, the policy has stipulated that "all such contracts presently being managed by IRCTC, on expiry of the contract period, will be awarded by the zonal railways in a phased manner".
IRCTC will not renew any contract required to be handed over to zonal railways on expiry of the contract. At present, there are about 65 food plazas across the country.
Railways will now formulate operating guidelines to implement the new catering policy.
Plagued with passenger complaints, Railway Minister Mamata Banerjee had stated in her Budget speech this year that a new catering policy will be announced to improve the food quality. Incidentally, IRCTC was formed during Mamata Banerjee's regime in 2001. The Jan Ahaar outlets started recently by Railways to provide affordable meals to all class of people will also be managed by zonal railways.
The policy took over a year to be finalised. The last policy catering policy was formulated during Lalu Prasad's regime in 2005.
New Delhi: European telecom vendor Ericsson has raised concerns over the proposals like sharing of source code and unlimited liability among others, as part of security clearance of telecom network equipment in India, reports PTI.
"We are specifically concerned to see obligations such as escrowing of source code (which is proprietary information), unlimited liability, no right to decline should the regulation change and lack of right of the vendor to mutually agree on the process suggested," Ericsson said in a letter to India's telecom secretary PJ Thomas.
Amid debate over security concerns relating to telecom equipment by Chinese vendors, the Indian government is proposing to amend licence of telecom service providers as part of security clearance by incorporating these clauses.
As per the proposed amendment, the Department of Telecom (DoT) has said for an Escrow deposit arrangement between the equipment suppliers and the telecom service providers will be formed wherein the suppliers shall keep all the information and documentation in relation to the supplies.
The information would include "without limitations, in respect to hardware, software, all source code, high level designs, detail design documents, listings and programmers note," it added.
The service providers shall have the right to use the escrow information, after its release, in order to use and maintain (including to upgrade) the software, to modify or have modified the software and to licence such modified software to or have it maintained by third parties.
Terming the draft agreement, currently under discussion with telecom operators, as "unjustly onerous", the Swedish equipment maker said that in its current form it would hurt the growth of the telecom industry.
Many clauses have cost implications directly and solely referable to the vendors, which "in our view should be shared by the telecom service providers and work out ways on minimising such costs for the benefit of the industry and consumers."
Ericsson has also requested DoT to hold discussions with the firm to resolve the issue.
The government had earlier asked operators to take security clearance before buying any key telecom gear. Telecom operators had been complaining about the strict rule, which forced the DoT to be very selective in giving approvals for equipment purchase.
Mumbai: Marks and Spencer Reliance India (M&SRIL), a joint venture between Mukesh Ambani-run Reliance Industries Ltd and UK-retailer Marks and Spencer Plc intends to open 15 new stores, mainly in metros, in two years time, a top company official has said on Thursday.
"We are looking to open 10-15 stores in the next two years mainly in the metros. We're aiming to open larger stores which will showcase a fuller range of our product catalogue," M&SRIL's head of marketing, Nandini Sethuraman told PTI.
"Though there are opportunities in smaller towns and cities, we want to make deeper inroads in metros and strengthen our base there as there is a lot more potential to grow in these places," she said.
Marks and Spencer at the time of forming joint venture with Reliance Retail in 2008, had announced plans to open 50 stores in India in next five years. The retailer said the target remained intact.
"By 2014, our aim is to have 50 stores. It all depends on momentum and right locations," Ms Sethuraman said.
Presently, the company has 18 stores across the country including Delhi, Amritsar, Mumbai, Pune, Ahmedabad, Kolkata, Bangalore, Hyderabad and Chennai with an average size of about 5,000 sq ft to over 22,000 sq ft.
"We have six stores in Delhi and we plan to open a couple of more stores here - one will be opened near the new international airport in Delhi," Ms Sethuraman said.
Besides, the company has three stores in Mumbai, two stores each in Bangalore and Chennai and one each in Pune, Kolkata and Amritsar, she said.
"We will continue to open stores in the existing markets. The stores that are to come up will be in both malls and in the stand-alone formats," Ms Sethuraman added.