UPSC 2017 IAS Exam Preparation: PIB Summary and Analysis July 22

Ministry of Railways undertakes various Initiatives to improve Catering Services

Statistics

  • 23 Million passengers travel on Indian Railways on a daily basis. Indian Railways provide approximately 1.1 million meals to passengers every day out of these 1 million are provided on board itself.
  • In order to achieve the objective of improving quality of catering services in Indian Railways various steps have been undertaken in recent years. Here is a brief summary of the initiatives.
  1. New Catering Policy, 2017
    • New Catering Policy has been issued on 27th February 2017 with the objective to provide quality food to rail passengers by unbundling of catering services on trains.
    • IRCTC has been mandated to carry out the unbundling by creating a distinction primarily between food preparation and food distribution. In order to upgrade quality of food preparation IRCTC will set up new kitchens and upgrade existing ones.
    • The salient features of the new Catering Policy 2017 are:
      • IRCTC to manage catering service on all mobile units. Pantry car contracts awarded by zonal railway to be reassigned to IRCTC.
      • Meals for all mobile units to be picked up from the nominated kitchens owned, operated and managed by IRCTC.
      • IRCTC not to outrightly outsource or issue licenses for provision of catering services to private licensees. IRCTC to retain the ownership and be fully accountable for all the issues pertaining to setting up and operation of the Base Kitchens and quality of food.
      • IRCTC to engage service providers from hospitality industry for service of food in trains.
      • Kitchen structures/land/space to be handed over by zonal Railways to IRCTC, for a period of 10 years extendable for another period of 5 years, on a token license fee.
      • IRCTC to be responsible for management of Food Plaza, Food Courts, Fast food units within the ambit of this policy.
  1. E-Catering
    • E-catering service on IR is managed by IRCTC. Initially, e-catering service was train specific and made available in 1350 trains which did not have services of Pantry car or Train Side Vending.
    • As a major initiative during September 2015, this scheme has been reoriented to make it ‘Station Based E-Catering’ in place of train specific e-catering.
    • Revamp of E-Catering services in September 2015 also permitted Food Aggregators to join the E-Catering initiative. Aggregators like, Railrestro, Zoop, Comesum, Mera Food Choice, Rail Darbar have been integrated through API covering 529 vendors and 244 offline vendors have also been incorporated for e-catering services across 357 stations.
  1. Water Vending Machines
    • The project of setting up WVM was launched on 7.12.2015. With an objective to provide potable water at nominal rates, water vending machines have been installed at stations.
    • Clean R.O. water is dispensed through these water vending machines to travelling passengers at affordable rates.
    • IRCTC has been mandated to set up water vending machines on railway stations. 1106 WVMs have already been commissioned at 345 stations. 1000 more WVMs are to be installed at stations shortly.
  1. Ready to Eat (RTE) Meals
    • In order to provide more options to passengers in trains RTE meals like Veg biryani, Masala Upma, Poha, Idli Samber etc are being provided to passengers.
    • These RTE meals have long shelf life and are very useful in meeting the exigencies like late running of trains due to fog etc.
    • As a pilot, the ‘Dehydrated Meal Technology’ being used in Airlines is being introduced in Railways. This technology will ensure provision of hot food to passengers merely by adding hot water.
    • Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation Limited (IRCTC) has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Defence Food Research Laboratory (DFRL) for transfer of technology of Retort Pouch Processed Foods on 27.06.2016.
    • Further, as per new Catering Policy 2017, the mobile catering will be unbundled by having separate contracts for onboard service & food production /supply. Hence, IRCTC will be setting up a grid of base kitchens across Indian Railways network, facilitating supply of hot & hygienic food in trains.
  1. Janani Sewa &Children’s menu
    • In compliance with the above Budget Announcement, to mitigate the hardships faced by travelling mothers, Janani Sewa has been introduced on 27.4.2016 to ensure provision of baby food, milk and hot water from nominated catering stalls.
  1. Self Help Groups (SHGs)
    • Empanelment of Self Help Groups (SHGs) to provide healthy, wholesome regional cuisine at an affordable cost to the travelling public through e-catering has been initiated and 9 SHGs have been empanelled at 10 stations.
  1. Third Party Audit
    • All Zonal Railways have a detailed institutionalized mechanism for monitoring of quality and hygiene of catering services through regular, surprise and periodical inspections.
    • If any deficiency is found, corrective actions are taken including penal actions like imposition of fines, termination of contract according to the gravity of the offence.
    • Third Party Audit of catering services are to be conducted at periodic intervals by independent and reputed auditing agencies accredited by NABCB (National Accreditation Board for Certification Bodies) as empanelled by the Zonal Railways.
    • The parameters for audit include all aspects of catering services like personal hygiene, infrastructure facilities, cleaning and sanitation, food safety, storage facilities, implementation of regulatory, statutory and safety regulations, quality of presentation etc.
Smt. Smriti Zubin Irani addresses a meeting on “GST- a tool to Inclusive Growth” 
at Ahmedabad today
  • The minister said that no one can harass a person who wants to come into formal economy.
  • If government agencies or officer will ask about past transactions or harasses anyone, direct action will be taken against them.
  • Implementation of GST is an historic event and we are proud to be a witness of such historic event.
  • Government has taken a number of pro poor steps in its three years, to make system more transparent and simpler through Jan Dhan Yojana, Mudra Yojana, Direct benefit transfer etc. and GST is also a part of this.
Vijay Goel urges schools to motivate students for Sports, Slum Adoption and 
Heritage Conservation
  • Government is engaged in the noble task of providing opportunity for developing the personality and leadership qualities of the youth by involving them in community service and various nation-building activities.
  • This is being done, inter-alia, through two youth volunteering organisations, namely, National Service Scheme (NSS) and Nehru Yuva Kendra Sangathan (NYKS).

 

UPSC Mains Practice Question
  1. What are the steps that have been undertaken in recent years by the Indian Railways In order to achieve the objective of improving quality of catering services? Discuss.

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