The Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation Limited (IRCTC) has levied a fine of ₹5000 on a caterer for the inadequate provision of curd and substandard meals to passengers on train 12146 from PURI to Lokmanya Tilak Terminus (LTT). Additionally, the IRCTC has issued a stern warning, indicating the possibility of further penal actions in case of a recurrence of such incidents.
Anuj Kumar Gupta, a resident of Koparkhairane, filed a complaint through the Centralised Public Grievance Redress and Monitoring System (CPGRAMS) after experiencing poor-quality food during his journey on train number 12146 from Puri to Lokmanya Tilak Terminus on September 29, 2023.
Gupta's complaint alleges that the caterer was selling food items priced at ₹150, which were listed at ₹80, and failing to provide a proper bill. Upon confronting Santosh Rathod, the manager of M/s R K Associates and Hoteliers Private Limited, the catering service provider on the train, Gupta managed to secure the correct bill and the appropriate pricing of ₹80 for the ordered four veg lunch meals.
However, Gupta expressed dissatisfaction with the quality of the food, citing discrepancies such as receiving only two chapatis instead of the promised four, watery dal instead of the specified thick dal, and the absence of curd in the meal.
Train's policy allowed only 2 chapatis; curd was unavailable due to stock depletion: Vendor
When questioned about these issues, the vendor/waiter claimed that the train's specific policy allowed only two chapatis, and curd was unavailable due to stock depletion. Furthermore, he admitted that the dal dish contained only water as they did not have dal grains from their supplier and declined to disclose his name. Subsequently, Gupta observed vendors in the pantry car selling curd separately at ₹30-40 each, rather than including it in the packaged veg meal. Feeling aggrieved, Gupta decided to escalate the matter to the relevant authorities.
In response to Gupta's complaint, licensee M/s R.K Associates & Hoteliers contended that an investigation on their end revealed the food prices were sourced from an unauthorized vendor. They maintained that the veg meal, as mentioned, was supplied at the correct MRP by the pantry car, and the food quality was checked and deemed satisfactory before serving. The licensee asserted that all passengers received the same meal and praised its quality, with no similar complaints reported.
However, IRCTC remained unconvinced by the caterer's response and imposed a ₹5000 penalty for the poor quality of food and the failure to provide curd to passengers on LTT-Puri Express, train no. 12146.