Following protests, IRCTC asks its culinary team to go more local
Passengers from Kerala had complained about local dishes vanishing from the menu
Facing ire from train passengers in Kerala, who were peeved by their favourite cuisine being replaced by North Indian dishes, Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC) has decided to restore the local cuisine within a week. But, there is no word yet on whether prices will be revised.
In the last few days, food outlets at Railway stations in Kerala stopped serving some of the local dishes and for those limited South Indian dishes that were still on offer, the prices had been hiked, according to reports. Delicacies that vanished from the menu include puttu (steam rice cake), kadala curry (black chickpea curry), egg curry, appam, porotta, according to reports.
Reports also said that the price of South Indian dishes like idli had been hiked (to ₹15 from about ₹8 for each idli), while there was no increase in prices of North Indian dishes such as puri-aaloo.
Facing a backlash, IRCTC has now empowered Zonal heads to include food items served earlier as snack meals for refreshment rooms as well as carts that sell food in addition to the existing items, keeping in view the local tastes and preferences. The items will be notified and implemented within a week, according to official sources.
In fact, as per the Railway Board decision in late 2019 — which announced the increase in prices — 350 gm of food item termed, “snack meals” are supposed to be sold at ₹50. This means some new items can be introduced and sold at ₹50.
Railway officials also maintained that multiplicity of a-la-carte items (read variety) were withdrawn because this was the main source of complaints related to overcharging. Introduction of the new menu – with less variety – has resulted in a 45 per cent drop in complaints received in December 2019, said official sources.
The cause of irked passengers was taken up by MP Hibi Eden, who shot off a letter to Piyush Goyal and IRCTC Chairman and Managing Director MP Mal. Eden specifically mentioned how dishes from Kerala were excluded from IRCTC’s menu, which is tantamount to discrimination against Malayalis.