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The annual audit report brought out by the Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG), which has termed food on railway as “unfit for human consumption” also mentions Pune railway station among lacking facilities such as Automatic Vending Machines (AVM) for food, specified catering units (SCU) as well as a base kitchen for trains without pantry car to pick up food.
The audit body also observed that due to delay in commencement of operations of food plaza at Pune railway station, the Indian Railways lost Rs 44.08 lakh in licence fee. As per the report, out of 74 stations where joint inspections were conducted, 55 stations, including Pune, didn’t have the AVMs which dispense hygienically packaged catering items such as packaged drinking water, proprietary article depot (PAD) items, tea, coffee and cold drinks.
The report also observed that due to the delay in commissioning of 90 SCUs, Zonal Railways could not ensure the availability of catering services to the rail users at many important stations, including Pune. “Zonal Railways also lost the opportunity of getting 12.85 crore towards 40 per cent share of licence fee from the licencees of IRCTC, calculated on the minimum licence fee payable to Zonal Railways by IRCTC during this period,” read the audit inspector report.
The report also pointed out that many trains which had to cover more than 12 hours and were required to have a pantry car, didn’t have them. Among these is Bilaspur-Pune Superfast Express. As per the report, neither the services of train side vending were provided nor any base kitchen were nominated for providing food. Railway officials said they would not like to comment about the matters that are handled at the Zonal Headquarters.