A parliament panel asked the railways to look into the probability of connivance of its officials with unauthorised vendors in trains and stations and said the penal provisions for these offences should be strengthened to get results.
A standing committee on the New Catering Policy 2017 tabled today in Parliament said they were concerned to note the mushrooming growth of unauthorised vending in trains and at stations.
The auditor said despite the efforts of the railways to curb the menace, unauthorised vendors were predominating, selling adulterated and simulated food items, beverages and water bottles.
It said the prosecution of 4,43,193 cases of unauthorised vending in 2016 and 2017 (upto December), by the Railway Protection Force and realisation of Rs 21,45,73,139 as fine, substantiated the volume of the menace and "disclose inadequacy of penal provisions and precautionary measures of the railways".
"The committee apprehends that unless and until stringent penal provisions are provided in the act/rules and action is taken accordingly against the defaulters, no tangible improvement can take place," it said.
"Further, the probability of connivance of railway officials with the unauthorised vendors should also be looked into," it added.
It also referred to a CAG report tabled in Parliament on July 21, 2017 which also observed activities of a number of unauthorised vendors on platforms and in trains which they detected during joint inspections in selected trains.
"The committee strongly feels that unauthorised vending not only causes loss of revenue to the railways but also poses a health hazard to the passengers," it said.
The panel urged the ministry to immediately work out appropriate remedial measures to check unauthorised vending both in mobile units and at stations, the report said.
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