We all are seeing how the reports about catering scams in Indian Railways are tarnishing its image. Even though Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu was much appreciated as the leader, but there are certain things that will take a lot of time to improve. And one of them is the railway catering. Activist Ajay Bose filed an RTI application, which revealed some shocking facts about Central Railway’s catering department.
It came to light that each kg of Amul curd was purchased at a shocking Rs 9720. Shocked? Well, so were we. Under the second appeal filed, the RTI reply revealed that 15336 units of 100 gm packs of Amul curd were purchased at a whopping Rs 14 crore. This means that each 100 gm unit coted Rs 972, which actually costs Rs 25.
Ajay Bose said –
‘I filed the application in July 2016, but didn’t get a reply from Central Railway. It appeared they wanted to cover something up. I filed an appeal and the appellate authority showcaused the railways asking them to provide details sought by me within 15 days. Despite this, there was no reply even after several months… This time, I received a reply with details, which were shocking: they purchased 100 grams of curd, which costs ₹25, for ₹972. In fact, the railways had bought most items at costs much than their MRP.’
Not only curd, several items were bought like this – like refined oil, tur daal, salt and even soft drink bottles. As per the reply, the railways bought 58 litres of refined oil for Rs 72,034 in March 2016, which means a litre was purchased at Rs 1241, which is much higher than the actual cost. One hundred and fifty packs of Tata Salt were bought for Rs 2670, which means at the rate of Rs 49 per packed, which actually costs Rs 15. And same is the case with water bottles and soft drinks. The bottles were bought for Rs 59 a bottle.
However, the RTI reply showed that some items like onions, potatoes and samosas were bought at the correct rate.
The story does not end here. Not only the commodities were bought on higher prices, but there is also a lot of mismatch in the stock as well. The RTI reply said that while 250 kg of flour was bought for Rs 7,680, the railways claimed that it distributed 450 kg of flour. Confused? Such mismatch of numbers exists for a lot of commodities. While they nought only 20 kg of maida, they said that they distributed 35 kg. They also bought 255 kg of rice but said that they distributed 745 kg.
On anonymity, a senior railway official said –
‘This cannot be happen on paper as there are some scandals in the past in which CSTM catering was at fault. Every year, the railways show loss in crores of rupees, and the reason is such scams. These need to be looked into seriously.’
This is not the first time that we’ve heard about such scams, especially as far as the railway catering is concerned.