Imposition of "stringent punitive action including heavy penalties in case of deficiencies in services" and quality assurance programmes by means of third party audit are being taken to improve catering in trains, the minister said
The union government on Thursday said various steps, including imposition of heavy penalties on entities for deficient services, are being initiated to ensure good quality catering in trains.
Acknowledging that there are many complaints about catering in trains, Railways Minister DV Sadananda Gowda said measures are being taken to serve "quality and hygienic food at reasonable and affordable rates".
"This is one area where we are getting so much of complaints such as catering facilities are not good, hygiene issues, overcharging for food and misbehaviour by caterers," Gowda told the Lok Sabha.
Listing out measures for improvement, the Minister said imposition of "stringent punitive action including heavy penalties in case of deficiencies in services" and quality assurance programmes by means of third party audit are being taken.
Besides, Gowda said introduction of pre-cooked food to improve quality and hygiene is being proposed.
"A pilot project for feedback of the passengers through Interactive Voice Response System (IVRS) has been launched in five trains," he said during Question Hour.
According to him, zonal railways ensure quality, and affordable food items are served to passengers through static and mobile units.
"A detailed mechanism for monitoring through regular, surprise and periodical inspections of the units has been put in place by the zonal railways.
"Catering Services Monitoring Cells have been set up for real time redressal of complaints on zonal railways," Gowda said.
In July 2010, a new catering policy was introduced.
The reserve price for wheat under OMSS has been fixed at Rs1,500 per quintal plus freight charges for old crop and 5% premium for new crop
The union government on Thursday approved sale of 10 million tonnes of wheat from the stocks of Food Corp of India (FCI) in the open market to boost domestic supply and check prices.
A decision in this regard was taken at a meeting of the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA), headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
"The CCEA has cleared sale of about 10 million tonnes of wheat via the open market sale scheme (OMSS) to bulk buyers," sources said.
The reserve price under OMSS has been fixed at Rs1,500 per quintal plus freight charges for old crop and 5% premium for new crop.
Wheat would be sold through e-tendering process by FCI with an aim to improve domestic supply of wheat and check prices, besides reducing storage pressure on the state-run company.
Wheat prices have firmed up in the last few days. Wholesale price of wheat has increased to Rs19 per kg in the national market in July, from Rs16.10 per kg in the same month last year, as per official data.
In 2013-14, the government had announced sale of 8.5 million tonnes of wheat via OMSS, but was able to sell only 5.8 million tonnes, earning about Rs9,310 crore.
Till early this month, the FCI had a wheat stock of 40 million tonnes, against the requirement of 20 million tonnes.
The country had produced a record 95.60 million tonnes of wheat in the 2013-14 crop year.