Passenger served ‘bugged’ pakodas from Sampark Kranti pantry

Less than two weeks after Parliament was told by the comptroller and auditor general (CAG) of India’ that food served on trains was unfit for human consumption, a passenger found an insect in the ‘pakoda’ served to him by the pantry staff in Bihar Sampark Kranti Express.

Mohammad Azad Ali, travelling in S-9 coach of the train spotted the “horrible looking bug” on the ‘pakoda’ he had ordered.

Ali had boarded the Darbhanga-New Delhi train with his family at Chapra in Bihar’s Saran district on August 2.

“I could have easily missed the bug inside the pakoda, which had been served by a pantry car vendor in an impeccably clean packet. After feeding a few morsels to my four-year-old son, the insect suddenly became visible,” Ali told HT over phone from New Delhi. He had bought the food packet for Rs 30.

“When we approached the pantry manager with the complaint, he profusely apologised. A fellow passenger also tweeted the matter to the railway ministry,” he said, adding that the impact was amazing.

The railway ministry immediately responded to the post on the microblogging site, directing the officials concerned to “Please look into the matter urgently,” Ali said.

“As the train rolled into various stations, railway officials visited us with queries over the issue,” he said. At Kanpur and Lucknow, the officials also took his mobile number and signatures on several papers, Ali said.

“A doctor also came inside the coach to conduct medical examination of my child at Lucknow,” added Ali, who was travelling on a waitlisted ticket.

“However, no passengers in my compartment ate anything from the pantry car after the episode. Many, who already had the ‘pakodas’, developed vomiting tendencies,” Ali said.

The CAG report last month said the food articles being provided on the railways were unfit for human consumption. Some of it was contaminated or past its shelf life, it added.

Apart from the unsuitable food, the CAG report had found that the water was not purified, waste bins not covered and food stuff left to the depredations of flies, dust, rats and cockroaches.

Even railway board chairman A K Mittal recently advised passengers to carry home-cooked food instead of depending on the pantry in trains.

“Carry home cooked food as quality-wise there is no alternative to such food,” Mittal said after his attention was drawn towards increasing complaints about catering facility on trains.

More recently, a dead lizard was found in a meal served to a group of pilgrims travelling from Jharkhand to Uttar Pradesh on Howrah-New Delhi Poorva Express.

The Railways scrambled its officials to meet a passenger at various stations in Uttar Pradesh after he found an insect in the ‘pakoda’ he had ordered from the pantry car.