The Central Railway’s catering department has purchased certain food items to stock their warehouses at several times the maximum retail price, reveals an application filed as a second appeal under the Right to Information (RTI) Act. The application was filed by an activist Ajay Bose for the second time as the railway officials failed to share information on the purchase of food items sought in his RTI application. The response revealed that each kg of Amul curd was purchased at Rs 9,720.
Bose filed his query after learning that the catering department was running at an enormous loss. “I filed the application in July 2016, but didn’t get a reply from CR. It appeared they wanted to cover something up. I filed an appeal and the appellate authority show-caused the railways asking them to provide details sought by me within 15 days. Despite this, there was no reply even after several months,” Bose told The Hindu.
Bose realised that they are deliberately ignoring his appeal, thus he filed a second one, he said “This time, I received a reply with details, which were shocking: they purchased 100 grams of curd, which costs Rs 25, for Rs 972. In fact, the railways had bought most items at costs much than their MRP.”
The details are related to items bought by the railways catering department. These items are kept at the warehouse in CSTM and dispersed to IRCTC’s Jan Ahar canteens, railway base kitchens and trains such as Deccan Queen, Kurla-Hazrat Nizamuddin Express.
Bose alleged the railways were facing losses owing to such scams. “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. Commodities like chicken with bone, tur dal, moong dal, besan and even tissue paper have been purchased at inflated costs.”
According to the RTI response, other commodities bought by railways included 58 litres of refined oil for Rs 72,034 in March 2016, or one litre of refined oil for Rs 1,241. The railways also bought 150 packets of Tata Salt for Rs 2,670, or Rs 49 per packet instead of its then MRP of Rs 15. Besides, water bottles and soft drinks were bought for Rs 59 per bottle. However, a few items were procured at acceptable rates including samosas, onions, and potatoes.
“This must be a typing error, but I will look into the matter,” said Ravindra Goyal, divisional railway manager (DRM), CR, as per the report in The Hindu. “There is a proper channel for purchasing these items. The purchase committee finalises the rates,” said Subodh Jain, former General Manager, CR.
“This is a very serious issue and needs to be looked into by senior railway authorities. So many items being purchased at higher costs and a difference in procurement and distribution cannot be typing mistakes. This has been happening since long and passengers are always the losers. Due to such scams, the railways claims it is running at a loss, increases fares and decreases passenger amenities. Action should be taken against officials involved,”said Subhash Gupta, member, Zonal Railway Users Consultative Committee (ZRUCC) and president, Rail Pravasi Sangh.