32 food stalls found fleecing commuters

Feb 14, 2013, 07:10 IST | Shashank Rao

Railway officials caught staff at food stalls overcharging passengers by Rs 2-3 more on items such as samosas, beverages and mineral water

After receiving scores of complaints about overcharging by stall vendors on platforms, officials from the Central Railway (CR) conducted a special drive to verify the costs being charged and found that out of 100 stalls surveyed, 32 stalls were found overcharging customers.

Food stalls
Checks were carried out mainly at CST, Byculla, Dadar, Kurla, Kurla Terminus, Ghatkopar, Thane and Kalyan and the errant stalls were asked to shut down and were allowed to reopen after the staff member caught overcharging was removed. Representation pic

Officials from the CR surveyed stalls throughout December at stations stretching from Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus all the way to Kalyan. During their study, they said that out of the 100-visited stalls, there were discrepancies of Rs 2-3 on items like water and samosas at 32 stalls. “We found that many of the stall vendors were overcharging people on items such as mineral water, samosas and at some places, even on cold drinks,” said a railway official.

The official told MiD DAY many of the stalls overcharging for water and drinks said that the additional Rs 2 or 3 that they were asking for over the maximum retail price was the cost of refrigeration. Following the survey, the stalls found overcharging were immediately shut down and were only allowed to reopen after the staff responsible for the crime was removed, said another CR official.

However, some officials complained that the survey and the penalties imposed were not uniform. For instance, one stall was asked to shut down for 10 days whereas another one was forced to stay shut for 15 days. “If caught overcharging, the penalty should be uniform,” argued one CR official.

But the survey and the consequences of it have left a sour taste in the mouths of many commuters. Madhu Kotian, member of Mumbai Rail Pravasi Sangh said that many stalls, which had shut down owing to overcharging had still not re-opened causing inconvenience to commuters. “There are food stalls at several railway stations that have remained shut for days together. It is affecting the amenities provided to commuters.”

The Western Railway introduced a new helpline where commuters could register complaints regarding catering and food. Sharat Chandrayan, chief PRO, said, “People can lodge complaints through calls or SMSes regarding food quality, overcharging etc.” These complaints can be made between 7 am to 10 pm through the week. For complaints regarding food, call on 9004441955.

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