Union Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu on Tuesday ordered an immediate inquiry after reports of alleged overpricing in certain purchases of Central Railways emerged. The official Twitter handle of the Ministry of Railways also deemed the report of curd and oil being purchased at exorbitant rates as ‘incorrect information.’ Denying the report published by The Hindu, The Railway Ministry said that Rs 970 was the cost of a carton of curd, having 108 cups, which translates to Rs 8.9/100 gm. It also informed that Rs 1241 was the price of a 15 litre tin of refined oil, roughly translating to Rs 82.7 per litre.
Meanwhile, Suresh Prabhu, Railway Minister has also asked the CRB to take serious action against any wrongdoings.
The Hindu had reported about an RTI application response allegedly revealing that the Central Railway’s catering department had purchased various food items at several times the MRP to stock up their warehouses. The report speaks about activist Ajay Bose, who claims that he had filed the application in July 2016 but had not received a reply. He had then filed a first appeal and received a response revealing that every kg of Amul curd was being purchased at Rs 9,720. Bose had apparently filed the questions after knowing about the ‘huge loss’ the catering department was under. Bose told reporters that the Central Railways Catering Department had purchased 100 grammes of curd, which costs Rs 25 for a whooping Rs 972. These were the details of the items purchased and stocked in the Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus warehouse and had been distributed to the IRCTC’s Jan Ahar canteens, railway kitchens and trains such as the Deccan Queen and the Kurla-Hazrat Nizamuddin Express, according to the Hindu.
According to the response received by Bose, the Central railways had purchased 58 litres of refined oil for Rs 72,034 in March 2016(RS 1241/ltr). It was also reported to have purchased 150 Tata Salt packets for Rs 2,670 (Rs 49/pkt) and soft drinks for Rs 59 per bottle. The RTI had also allegedly revealed a mismatch in the distribution. The railways, the report said, had claimed to have distributed 450 kg of flour((90 kg to base kitchen and 360 kg to the IRCTC-run Jan Ahar canteens), despite the RTI showing purchases of 250 kgs of flour for Rs 7,680.
Here is the full text of the clarification issued by Central Railway:
The press clipping appeared in Hindi daily Dopahar Ka Saamana dated 26.4.2017 and The Hindu dated 2.5.2017 has been examined in detail with information furnished to the RTI applicant wherein it is revealed that the information was furnished by compiling and preparing tabulated sheet from voluminous records pertaining to multiple catering units available at CSTM, LTT, DR and HQrs. While preparing the computerised statement inadvertent typographical error occurred in item of Amul Curd in the month of Jan 2016. Upon knowledge of this error, a corrected copy of the statement along with relevant documents of records where the actual figure is reflected was furnished to the RTI applicant.
Further it is submitted that as appeared in the press the RTI applicant has furnished the information the expenditure in total amount and multiplied the same for per cup per litre rate as against the actual expenditure which is reproduced below:
Item No. 1 Refined Oil
As per RTI – 58 Ltrs were purchased @ Rs.1241per Ltr amounting to Rs. 72034.
Clarification:- Actual quantity purchased was 58 tins of 15 Ltrs each (58 x 15 = 870 Ltrs) @ 82.7977 per Ltr (870 x 82.7977) which amounted to Rs. 72034/-
Item No. 2 Toor Dal
As per RTI – Toor Dal purchased at higher rate
Clarification:- Toor Dal was purchased @ Rs.143 per Kg which was the then prevailing market rate
Item No. 3 Tata Salt
As per RTI – Salt Purchased @ rate of Rs. 49/- per Kg.
Clarification:- Salt was purchased @ Rs.17.8 per kg.
Item No. 4 Moong Dal
As per RTI – Moong Dal purchased at higher rate
Clarification:- Moong Dal was purchased @ Rs.117.93 per kg which was the then prevailing market rate.
Item No. 5 Amul Curd
As per RTI – Information given 15336 cups of 100 gms each was purchased @ Rs.972.87per cup amounting to Rs. 1,49,19,934.32
Clarification:- This was a typographical error, as 15336 cups was purchased @ Rs.972.87 per carton containing 108 curd cups each of 100 gms amounting to Rs. 1,38,148/-. 1 carton rate of 972.87 was given as rate of one cup.
Item No. 6 Boneless Chicken
As per RTI – Boneless Chicken was purchased @ Rs. 237/- per kg whereas the market rate was Rs.160/- per kg.
Clarification:- 650 kg of Boneless chicken was purchased @ Rs.237/- per kg whereas the market rate for whole chicken (chicken with bones) was Rs.160/- per kg.