Food served on board Indian trains and at railway stations is unfit for human consumption, an official report says.
The annual audit report said checks on 80 trains and at 74 stations had found that some food was contaminated, while packaged and bottled items were past their expiry date.
Food was stored in the open, attracting flies, rats and cockroaches, it added.
India has one of the largest railway networks in the world, used by around 23 million passengers daily.
Built mostly under British colonial rule, the railway network is the backbone of public transport.
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But its catering services have often come under criticism from passengers and Indian Railways announced a new catering policy in February.
The report by India’s Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) said that cleanliness and hygiene were not being maintained at catering units at stations and in trains.
The audit found:
- Unpurified water used for beverages
- Waste bins uncovered, not emptied regularly and not washed
- Food stuffs unprotected from flies, insects and dust
- Rats and cockroaches found in trains
The report blames frequent policy changes and the failure of Indian Railways to provide kitchens, static catering units, and automatic vending machines.
In a series of tweets, the railway ministry said on Friday that the new catering policy announced on 27 February would lead to quality food for rail passengers. It promised new kitchens and upgrades to existing ones.