26 passengers on Goa-Mumbai Tejas Express taken to hospital after food poisoning

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26 passengers on Goa-Mumbai Tejas Express taken to hospital after food poisoning

At least 26 people aboard the Mumbai-bound Tejas Express from Goa were taken ill after consuming food served by the Railways' catering wing, IRCTC, the Konkan Railway said.

While the Railway Minister Piyush Goyal called for an ending the practice of overcharging of food items served in trains, the quality and hygiene of food served even in the most premium trains has unchecked. Around 26 passengers aboard the Mumbai-bound Tejas Express from Goa took ill after consuming food served by the Railways' catering wing, IRCTC, the Konkan Railway said.

An IRCTC officer and a catering manager were placed under suspension after the incident was reported, a spokesperson said. The area officer of the Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC) in Madgaon and the on-board catering manager have been placed under suspension pending a fact-finding committee's report and results of test of food samples, railway spokesperson Anil Saxena said.

The passengers were headed towards Mumbai. After consuming food served by the Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC) on the Tejas Express, they complained of uneasiness, Konkan Railway Chairman and Managing Director Sanjay Gupta told PTI.

The train was stopped at the Chiplun station and all 26 people were admitted to the city's Life Care Hospital. None of the patients was in serious condition, Gupta said. The Tejas Express, one of the premium trains of the Indian Railways, connects Mumbai and Karmali in Goa. Meanwhile, IRCTC has issued a show-cause notice to the caterer of Tejas Express.

In an official communication, IRCTC assured that strict action would be taken against the contractor, if found guilty. "A show-cause notice has been served on the catering contractor and strict action is contemplated if found guilty," reads the IRCTC statement.

The Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) of India has earlier said in its audit report that the food served by the Indian Railways to its passengers is unfit for consumption by humans. The CAG has pointed out several loopholes in managing the catering services. It has pulled up the Railways for mismanagement of catering services, poor quality food and monopolisation that has led to compromise in quality.

CAG report found that purified water was not available at 21 stations across 11 railways zones. Dirty water was being used for beverages like coffee, tea and soups in 22 trains. Water used for cooking purposes was not purified. The general railway water supply was being used for cooking in some trains. No hand gloves and caps were being used in the kitchen at 32 stations across 13 railway zone.

It further stated that the train departed at 9 am from Karmali and 230 passengers were served breakfast on board.

A group of seven passengers complained of nausea and were attended to by onboard supervisor. Meanwhile, two groups of passengers numbering 15 also complained of nausea, the statement stated.

A passenger on board who is a doctor attended to them.

The train was given a out of course halt at Chiplun and passengers were attended by railway doctor, mentions the statement.

Ambulances were requisitioned and they were admitted to a local hospital and are under observation, IRCTC stated.

As reported by the hospital, none of the patients was in serious condition, IRCTC claimed in its statement.

"An enquiry has been ordered to investigate the cause of the incident. The kitchen where food was prepared was inspected by area officer Madgaon after the incident and samples collected for testing," IRCTC stated.

The IRCTC general manager has proceeded to Chiplun for coordination at the hospital for all arrangements for ensuring the passengers' comfort and onward movement, IRCTC stated.

The train, manufactured at the Rail Coach Factory in Kapurthala boasts of tea and coffee vending machines and individual LCD screens. The 20-coach Tejas Express was the first Indian Railways' train to have automatic doors and secured gangways for all coaches.

Tejas Express's executive class fare has been fixed at Rs 2,680 with food and Rs 2,525 without food, and for AC chair car the fare has been fixed at Rs 1,280 with food and Rs 1,155 without food.

with PTI inputs