Opinion

Why Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu has to take ‘IRCTC meal scam’ issue very seriously?

Indian Railways has been infamous for many issues related to passenger convenience. Hygiene, lack of supporting facilities at the station, or quality of food has been highlighted in the past. A recent concern by a passenger, travelling from Visakhapatnam to Howrah, has drawn further attention to railway problems. Shivendra is a retired IAS officer, and during his journey experienced something, which we all have not been likely acquainted with, so far.

Shivendra has alleged that he was charged more than the normal price, for ordering a veg meal inside the train. He ordered a vegetarian meal, for which he had to pay Rs 90. But when he checked the price of the same meal on IRCTC website- it was priced at Rs 50 only. Shivendra commits that he has always been upset about the quality of food as against the tagged price, so he googled when asked to pay Rs 90 for the very ordinary looking meal.

When he told the waiter, he said Rs 50 is okay but don’t tell anyone. To add to Shivendra’s woes, there was no rate card available in the pantry car. You can read below the exact post.

This may sound like a small hiccup. But can you imagine the enormity of the situation. If every passenger is paying Rs 40 extra, it will compound into a multi-crore scam. There are around 25 million passengers travelling through Indian Railways in a given day.

The real MRP war in India

Every Indian citizen should speak up against the malpractice. Why should we pay something more than MRP anywhere? This issue has been raised many times, when customers are required to pay extra while watching movies, for airport entertainment, malls, or cricket matches. We should be served the packaged mineral water at one price only, shouldn’t we? We, as dutiful citizens, are already doing our bit by paying the various indirect taxes levy by the government. Then why should we be robbed of our money illegitimately, at the mercy of handful of people?

Have you ever noted your multiplex ticket? If you are a Delhi or Gurgaon citizen, for example, then you are likely paying multiple taxes. Have you ever thought why a movie costs almost half the price when it is made tax-free? In addition, the various movie halls give you food packages, making it seem like subsidized marketing! Well, movie-goers are not complaining, as we don’t have a choice really. This is all lawfully done.

But what is definitely not accepted to us is, paying extra money for an Indian railways meal, by being cheated as a customer. We know, the present government is taking many measures to give the Indian Railways a serious makeover. There will be a McDonald burger soon for you on your railways journey. Yet, this is something totally unacceptable and we thank Shivendra for bringing it to our notice, and making all of us aware.

Shivendra K. Sinha IAS Ret’d

Last week i was travelling from Visakhapatnam to Howrah in Yesvantpur-Howrah Express. Ordered Veg. meal from the pantry car, as per waiter it was Rs.90/- only.

I have always in mind that these people are charging very high for the meals but never took it seriously. But this time i determined to enquire about it.

Googled about the rate card and menu, found this website,

IRCTC Help: IRCTC Latest Food Menu Rates

I was shocked when I saw the rates –

Veg meals which pantry car person was selling at Rs 90 was priced only Rs 50/-

Non-Veg meals pantry car rate was priced Rs 100 is only Rs 55/-

Two more options are also available as Standard Thali Meals- Veg and Non-Veg at Rs 35 and Rs 40.

After meals , I handed over Rs 50 to the waiter, but he was demanding 90.

I asked him about the RATE CARD, he refused to have any such thing.

Shown him the above website and rates, he was like Rs. 50 will be ok but DON’T TELL ANYONE.

I was so furious, travelled all the way from 13th coach to 1st coach to the pantry car.

And on my way, informed co-passengers who were taking the meals from pantry about this scam.

Met the Pantry-In-charge. Enquired about this. he was also telling the same story, rate cards are missing right now but will shortly get the new one.

About the Jacked price of meal he was mum. Lodge a complaint in his Complaint register , which he handed over to me after half an hour.

Initially he was pleading not to write the complaint but after writing the complaint, he was like nobody will see this , it will go into dustbin that’s it.

To my surprise, against my complaint (he is obliged to give reason in writing – triplet complaint copies – one has to handed over to customer) he wrote “taken only Rs 50 from customer Bill No XXX and this customer writes complaint every time he travels. “

The same situation is in almost every train, pantry car meals price are jacked up as no one question them, no one ask about the rate card.

As per one of the estimate, every day around 25 million passenger travel from Indian Railways , if only 0.5% of these passengers takes either lunch or dinner from pantry cars , even extra rupees 30 on each plate will make these people rich by Rs 37,500,000.

Calculate for yourself for 100% passengers complaining.

Or just multiply Rs 37,500,000 by 200 and again by 365…

ENORMOUS!

Please do insist for Bill every time you ordered any food from a Railway pantry car.

Please do try to forward this to all, as so many depend on Rail travel & can’t afford Air travel.


Pooja Bhatia

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