Banerjee orders ‘high’ food prices to be cut in new train

June 14th, 2009 - 7:07 pm ICT by IANS  

Howrah (West Bengal), June 14 (IANS) Railways Minister Mamata Banerjee Sunday publicly disagreed with the prices fixed for food items on board a new express train and asked the officials to reduce the rates.
“I have seen the price chart. I don’t agree with it. The prices are very exorbitant. People can’t pay such prices,” she said at a function before flagging off the Kandari Express between Howrah and the tourist resort of Digha in East Midnapore district.

A visibly annoyed Banerjee said she was not informed of the rates by the Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation officials, and instructed the officials to bring the prices down to a level which people could afford.

She also asked the officials to make available cheap food like luchi/pooris for poorer sections of the society at railway platforms across the country.

“Similarly, clean drinking water must be made available on all the platforms,” she said.

Noting that food quality and cleanliness have deteriorated, Banerjee said stress will be given on improving these aspects.

Besides, she also underscored the need for making train travel safe and secure for the people and promised that the passenger amenities will also improve in the coming days.

“We will improve the infrastructure. We will increase EMU locals and number of coaches. There should be proper in-station announcements. The Tatkal services also need improvement and people are not getting the tickets,” she said while referring to her motto of running the railways with a humane face.

Asking the people to be patient, Banerjee said: “We will work a lot. But I can’t say any more now as railway budget is round the corner.

“We have two compulsions - a commercial obligation and a social obligation. And for the latter, we have to approach our work with a humane face,” Banerjee remarked.

She urged the railway employees including the Railway Protection Force (RPF) to “work with a humane face” and build up a good rapport with the passengers.

“We all have to behave well with people. And there should be mutual cooperation between the railways and the people,” she said.

On the Kandari Express, Banerjee said the train has started its run much before the one month time she had set for its launch. “There may be flaws. Give us time to correct them.”

The railways minister announced that within a month she would come out with a package including accommodation, food and travel for the tourists who avail of the train.

“We want Indian railways to carry tourists. We know Indian people love to travel. We want to improve tourism,” she said.

The daily train - which will leave for Digha in the afternoon and make its return journey in the evening - has been named after a famous poem “Kandari hunshiar” penned by revolutionary poet Kazi Nazrul Islam.

The poet’s daughter-in-law Kalyani Kazi was also present on the occasion.

Banerjee said the second daily train, christened Tamralipta Express, on the route will start plying Monday. The train is named to commemorate the “Tamralipta government” set up by the Indian revolutionaries during the Quit India movement.

She also dedicated the train to Matangini Hazra, an old woman revolutionary who fell to the British government’s bullets at the height of the movement.

Three union ministers of state from Banerjee’s Trinammol Congress - Sougata Ray, Sultan Ahmed and Sisir Adhikari - were also present.

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