(Editors note: This story has been corrected with details provided by the ministry of Railways)
The ministry of Railways has denied any scam in procurement of food items in the central Railways' catering department, tweeting out the correct prices of the items bought.
Correct info is Rs 970 for a carton hving 108 curd cups i.e. Rs 8.9/100gm & Rs1241 for 15 litre tin of refined oil i.e. Rs 82.7/litre https://t.co/IdqzL9Plpf
— Ministry of Railways (@RailMinIndia) May 2, 2017
According to Indian Railways, a carton having 108 curd cups was bought at Rs 970, which is Rs 8.9/100 gm. Also, the railways procured 15 litre tin of refined oil for Rs 1,241 i.e Rs 82.7 a litre.
The clarification from ministry of Railways comes after The Hindu report said that the Central Railways had procured 100 gm Amul curd for Rs 972 and refined oil for Rs 1,241 a litre. The information, according to the report, was based on a reply to RTI query by activist Ajay Bose.
“I was provided with details after a long wait, and information for only a few months was shared though I had wanted it for a full year," RTI activist Bose has been quoted as saying in the report. Bose had to file two appeals to get the details he sought.
According to a reply to an RTI query by activist Ajay Bose, the catering department of the Central Railways bought food items several times higher than the MRP to stock up in the Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus warehouse and distribute to trains such as Deccan Queen, Jan Ahar canteens and railways base kitchens.
The catering department bought a kg of Amul curd for an eye-poping Rs 9,720, which means a 100 gm of the product was priced at Rs 972! Similarly, refined oil was bought for Rs 1,241 a kg and Tata Salt for Rs 49 per 1 kg packet. For Tata Salt the original price was just Rs 15 (in March 2016). Water bottles and soft drinks were bought for Rs 59 per bottle, the report in The Hindu said.
However, the ministry of railways did not clarify a distribution mismatch based on the RTI information. It said, the railways purchased just 250 kg of flour but distributed 450 kg. So was the case of maida. The purchase quantity was 20 kg, while the distribution made was 35 kg.
Ravindra Goyal, Divisional Railway Manager (DRM), CR, told the newspaper that the data provided could just be be a typing error. "But I will look into the matter,” he has said.
However, this is not the first time the catering service of the Indian Railways has been in the eye of a storm.
In February, a report in The Quint said that overcharging by pantry staff has been a major problem in many trains.
It pointed to a Facebook post by one Protapta Das, who alleged that pantry staff in the Yesvantpur-Howrah Express were selling food items at more than double the printed MRP.
The railways ministry, however, in a tweet denied the news and said: "Wrong and Misinformation moving round in Social Media and WhatsApp groups about overcharging in pantry car of train Yesvantpur to Hwh".
Updated Date: May 02, 2017 17:12 PM