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Northern Railway sends Rs 16.4 cr bill for running canteens in Parliament

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Dion Global

08 Feb 2019

Northern Railway has demanded Rs 16.43 crore from the Lok Sabha secretariat for running four canteens in Parliament -- where food prices are significantly low -- during 2017-18, an RTI query has revealed.

This amount was claimed as "subsidy claim and establishment cost".

A copy of the demand note sent by Northern Railway for running catering units at Parliament House, Parliament House Annexe, Parliament House Reception and Parliament House Library Building was provided under the Right to Information to Neemuch-based RTI activist Chandrashekhar Gaud.

Through this note, sent in July 2018, the railways demanded Rs 16,43,90,598 for 2017-18 towards "subsidy claim and establishment cost".

As of January 16, 2019, railways had not received payment on these two heads, the RTI reply further said.

Replying to another RTI query by Gaud, the Lok Sabha secretariatinformed on December 11, 2018 that "subsidy claim...submitted by the Northern Railway Catering Unit, Parliament House Complex, has been sent to the Ministry of Finance for scrutiny and vetting.

However, to Gaud's specific query as to how much subsidy Northern Railway demanded on account of the loss suffered due to sale of food at low rates, there was no clear reply.

"Separate reimbursement of losses on account of food is not demanded from Lok Sabha Secretariat. Total expenditure on account of food, establishment and other charges etc. is given to Lok Sabha Secretariat for reimbursement," it said.

Low food prices at Parliament canteens had been a controversial issue in the past.

On December 31, 2015, the Lok Sabha secretariat had informed that these canteens will henceforth operate on "No-profit, No-loss" basis from January 1, 2016, and the rates would be hiked accordingly.

As per an RTI reply obtained by Gaud in December 2018, a chapati in Parliament canteens cost Rs two, assorted dal Rs five, rice Rs 7, kheer and masala dossa Rs 18 each and chicken curry Rs 50.