More than 25 passengers of the elite Tejas Express — launched in July 2017 and running between Goa and Mumbai — were taken ill on Sunday after allegedly consuming food provided by the Indian Railways’ catering arm Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC).
Railway Ministry officials said the train was stopped at Chiplun in the Konkan region of Maharashtra following complaints by the passengers of train no 22120 Tejas with symptoms of food poisoning. Till late evening all the passengers were said to be stable but they were kept under observation at the private hospital, said officials.
“Passengers, who were admitted to the hospital, complained of uneasiness soon after having their breakfast served on the train. About 300 passengers were served breakfast by the pantry staff of the Tejas but some of them complained of uneasiness after consuming it. This is unfortunate and strict action would be taken against all those responsible,” said the official.
Tagged as India’s first semi-high speed train, the luxury train boasts of several modern facilities onboard like LED TV and tea/coffee vending machines and high class onboard catering services.
The IRCTC said all the passengers currently hospitalised were out of danger and the same has been confirmed by hospital authorities.
“First treatment was given to passengers by railway doctor. Further passengers were admitted in life care hospital for medical assistance. Staff accompanied passengers to hospital,” IRCTC tweeted.
Also, it said a probe has been launched to ascertain the source of food poisoning. “Food sample have been taken for investigation.
Total 300 breakfasts (170 vegetarian and 130 non- vegetarian) were been served,” the IRCTC said. IRCTC Director, Catering services, left for Mumbai from New Delhi headquarters to follow up the matter and take immediate action. “Monitoring is being done to ensure proper assistance,” IRCTC said in a statement.
The Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) in a scathing report couple of months ago had said that food sold by Railways at stations and trains is “unfit for human consumption” and the hygiene standards at railway catering units were below par.
It also found unpurified tap water being used to make beverages, uncovered and unwashed waste bins, food left out in the open, and rats and cockroaches at catering units in trains and stations. The report was prepared after inspections at 74 stations and 80 trains, covering the period from 2013 to 2016 and issues of earlier years which could not be reported earlier.
Railways serve 11 lakh meals on trains everyday on an average. As per the new catering policy announced in February 2017, food production and distribution is to be done through different service providers.