When will railway vendors stop overcharging commuters?

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Even though we have a new government at the centre but nothing has changed as customers are being cheated. Despite the presence of strict Railways Ministers these food vendors continue to overcharge commuters. Irrespective of whether they are contractors’, employees or private vendors, they continue to charge above MRP. Even, IRCTC’s employees continue to indulge in such malpractices. Often while travelling, we are forced to shell out 20 rupees for a bottle of mineral water costing Rs 15. They charge 15 rupees for a packet of biscuit or chocolate costing Rs 10. For cold drinks, they charge you Rs. 10 above MRP.

Last week, I went to my native village which is in Uttar Pradesh. Don’t ask how I managed to get reservation and how I reached there. After boarding the train at 5:20 am from Lokmanya Tilak Terminus (LTT), I approached a tea vendor who was charging Rs 10 for a cup of tea. When I asked him why he is overcharging me when the printed rate is Rs 5 then he replied, “Jahan milta hai wahan se lelo.”

After this incident, I encountered many vendors on and off trains who were overcharging for packed food and beverages. Their confidence level were too high, it seems that they nobody have raided them ever. I inquired with a private vendor at Bhopal station the reason behind why he is overcharging. The vendor replied that he has to distribute the profit with the police personnel. They also have to pay ‘hafta’ to the officials. Though, I had not registered any official complaint in this regards due to time constraint please consider this article as a complaint.

After returning from native place I came across a website www.grahakseva.com where complaints against Railways, IRCTC and vendors were registered in large numbers but no action has been taken against them. A commuter Shreekrishna Prasad had mentioned that he purchased a water bottle from M/s Balan Natural Food Limited’s stall at Patna junction on platform no. 4 and handed Rs 20 to them. Instead of returning him the change, the vendor forced him to buy a packet of chips worth Rs 5. Finally, the complainant returned the water bottle to the vendor.

Another complainant Sushil Kosay said, “I frequently board Garib Rath Express from Mumbai to Kochuveli. Recently I travelled on 5th and 15th January. Since I am a diabetic patient, I asked for sugar free tea but it was unavailable. lndia is the diabetic capital of the world and more than 50 per cent of the passengers are diabetic and compelled to drink the overdosed sugar tea which is a health hazard. The matter was already discussed in Lok Sabha and parliamentarians had made a resolution to provide sugar free tea to railway commuters. However, these guidelines are yet to be implemented.

Though, these are not official complains. Toll free numbers exist where commuters can complaint about vendors overcharging them. However, railways have never promoted this number which is quite effective. Next time, whenever vendors overcharge you just dial 1800111321 and register your complaint. I don’t know whether officials have taken action after I filed the complaint or will they act after reading my article.