Caterer runs UoP mess with expired contract

Aug 28, 2012, 08:02 IST | Niranjan Medhekar

Days after students complained against the caterer operating the mess for serving them dal with insects on Friday night, investigation revealed that though his contract expired last month, he was still operating the mess without any official conformation from the varsity officials.

Caterer Chetan Sawant said his contract with the varsity had expired last month. “My contract ended in July and I had approached the varsity administration in this regard,” Sawant said yesterday.

Quality issues: Students protest outside the refectory demanding better quality food. Some of the students had complained about being served insect-infested dal on Friday. PIC/Nirajan Medhekar

Sawant lamented that he was not at all interested in managing the refectory any longer. “I don’t get a single rupee from the varsity and what I charge the students is certainly not enough,” Sawant said. “As per the rule, we have to provide every student with 700 gm of food at a time.

For this, I need make at least Rs 1,800 to Rs 2,000 per student every month. I had hiked meal prices by two rupees in the past. But the students protested it and I withdrew the hike.”
At present, students are charged Rs 1,200 for two meals a day per month.

UoP Vice-Chancellor Dr W N Gade confirmed that Swant’s three-year contract ended last month. “We have initiated the tendering process and in a month’s period the varsity administration will select a new caterer to mange its refectory,” Gade said.

The V-C also scrapped the current refectory advisory committee and said a new one will be replacing it shortly. Recently, a group of five students met V-C and demanded inclusion of fruits and salads alongside quality meals.

“We requested the V-C to provide us nutritious meal. Current food quality is very poor. As directed by the V-C, we’ll be forming a committee comprising 14 students in the next two days to inspect the quality of food served at the refectory,” History department student Sagar Shinde said.

Taking cognizance of the issue, Gade wrote to oficials of the Food and Drugs Administration (FDA) to determine whether Sawant was operating with or without an FDA licence.

“I asked FDA officials to update me on the current status of the caterer. I learnt that he had applied for a licence in 2011,” Gade said. 

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