Freshly cooked aloo-puri at Deendayal Railway Station (Mughalsarai), or idli sambhar, alloo bonda or egg chops at Purulia Station, and many more food items are likely to be back on the railway platforms across the country — right in front of your train coaches.
The Indian Railways has taken this step to give a fillip to the regional cuisines and discourage the rising demands of unhealthy fast food on the railway premises and trains.
However, the good old stainless-steel carts of yore will be replaced by a sleek trolley modified by the National Institute of Design (NID) to facilitate the promotion of the “one Station One Product” policy as announced in the annual Budget earlier this year.
The policy aims to promote one local product at each railway station like glass bangles at Firozabad, sandals, and blankets at Ludhiana, oranges, grapes or Kolhapuri chappals at Nashik, coffee at Hosur railway station, and handmade Banaras Silk sarees at Varanasi Junction.
The freshly cooked meal like aloo-puri for which the passengers used to hold their hunger even if the trains used to be late for a particular destination, lost its flavour after the railway banned their cooking on platforms and introduced a revamped catering system to serve packed items.
Ahmedabad-based NID has designed carts having various compartments to give better display to the products. Under the new provisions, vendors with local cuisines and handicrafts will be legally allowed to board trains up to the next stoppage to sell their products on board.
A fee of Rs 1,500 for 15 days of business has been levied for such vendor activities on rail premises. As a prototype, the railways has introduced this policy at some stations during the last couple of months. Looking at the excellent business, the authorities want to replicate it across the 7,000 railway stations in the country.
“Most of the vendors have reported earning Rs 5,000 a day and so far none has reported dissatisfaction over earnings. A circular will be issued that no railways authorities or personnel harass such legal vendors.
A special kind of badge will be given to them for better identification and to sell their products in a dignified way,” said a railway official.