After its outlet Refresh was forced to shut shop at the Central Railway at Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus (CST) recently following complaints that the food joint was not serving janta khana at economical rates and the quality was inviting criticism, the newly opened food plaza outside Andheri (East) station is ruffling some feathers.
Complaints are coming in stating that the food plaza, which like Refresh is also being operated by the Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC) Ltd, is overcharging patrons.
Though the food plaza outside Andheri (East) railway station scores high on general appearance, sources in the railways claim that the cost of food is acting as a deterrent for hungry patrons.
“We believe the prices are on the higher side and not everyone would be able to afford such rates,” said a Western Railway official.
Going by the menu, the price for a regular sized onion, capsicum and tomato pizza with cheese is Rs 146, a single gulab jamun is Rs 15, one chapati or poori Rs 12, a plate of panipuri with eight pieces Rs 37 and a plain dosa accompanied by chutney and sambar is Rs 49.
“We visited the food plaza and ordered four vegetarian burgers. Each burger cost Rs 43 and did not have any cheese or mayonnaise. Also, one burger in the lot seemed to have only half a patty and was tasteless and cold,” said Naresh Mehta, who claims to have emailed IRCTC on email@example.com on November 29 to report the matter.
He added that his attempt was futile as the mail bounced back.
“We have received complaints about the cost of food sold here. The railways should ensure that food available at these plazas is economical,” said Kailash Verma, member, Mumbai Upnagriya Rail Pravasi Sangh.
Incidentally, Additional Divisional Railway Manager, Mumbai Division, H Verma of CR, found discrepancies in the way Refresh was operating during a surprise visit before it was ordered closed.
“The outlet was not selling janta khana as it was expected to do. Also, the surroundings were unhygienic and those serving food to patrons at the outlet were not wearing uniforms,” Verma said.
Refresh, which was the only food counter on the suburban sector at CST, was closed after several complaints came in over a period of three months.
The railway officials promised to look into the matter regarding the food plaza outside Andheri (East) railway station and take action if necessary.
“We had told the food plaza operators to sell janta khana between 12 and 3 pm and 7 and 10 pm.
We will surely look into the matter and see if there are any complaints regarding the outlets. Also, we have fined the contractor of Refresh a sum of Rs 11,000 for ill maintenance and have asked the CR officials to do the needful so the outlet can open soon,” said V Singh, group general manager, IRCTC.