NEW DELHI: Railways will tomorrow announce a new policy for its catering services which shall separate the functioning of its cooking and food distribution onboard.
The new catering policy to be announced by Railway minister Suresh Prabhu envisages fulfilling aspirations of public regarding healthy and hygienic food as it was flooded with complaints against food quality.
While the food will be prepared at the state-of-the-art base kitchens, it would be distributed through service providers from hospitality industry, according to the new policy which aims to attract reputed food-chain players from the market.
The new policy replacing the seven-year-old one gives back the IRCTC, a railways PSU, onboard catering responsibility for majority of trains including all the new ones.
The Railways PSU was relieved from the responsibility through the current policy effected by the then Railway minister Mamata Banerjee in 2010.
“IRCTC would begin to manage catering service in a phased manner. IRCTC would unbundle catering service by creating distribution primarily between food preparation and its distribution,” Prabhu had announced in the 2016 Rail Budget.
Railway catering policy-2017 also empowers the IRCTC to fix menu and tariff in consultation with Railway Board.
In order to achieve social objective, the policy allows 33 per cent sub quota for women in allotment of stalls at all stations.
“Besides, self-help groups will also be empaneled in catering services to promote employment opportunities in various regions,” Railway Ministry sources said, adding “milk stalls would be alloted at all stations through open tender.”
Stringent guidelines have been incorporated in the policy to set up base kitchens at major junctions and also to restrict IRCTC from outsourcing private licensees outrightly.
Perpetual renewal of food stalls at stations has been done away with and the new policy envisages that tenure of stalls shall be of five years only.
The new policy, which encourages e-catering system, was finalised after taking suggestions from all stakeholders.