Patna, Mar 17: To convert busy railway stations as 'cooking free zones', Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC) has decided to replace all platform food kiosks with Automatic Vending Machines (AVMs) for supplying 'hyginic food in bio-degradable and eco-friendly containers' for passengers across the country.
A pilot project to see the acceptibility of this new concept would soon be launched in Patna railway junction, where eight such AVMs would be installed in as many platforms this month, informed IRCTC Regional Manager Rajesh Rana here today.
Claiming that the unique concept would be materialised for the first time in India in line with those present in railway platforms of most of the developed countries, Mr Rana said the AVM's would not only provide pre-cooked food items in bio-degradable containers, but also hot and cold beverages at competive prices all round the year.
He said the conditions of food items, previously cooked in hygenic way elsewhere, would be monitored by expert teams daily to ensure their quality.
The provision to supply the food-packers after properly warming them would also be made in the AVMs, Mr Rana emphasised.
Claiming that the proposed conversion of all busy railway platforms as Cooking Free Zone was in line with the newly introduced catering policy of the Indian Railways, the IRCTC Regional Manager said. He also added that following a national bidding programme, a number of reputed private companies had not only evinced interest but also bagged the orders for various stations.
Two branded companies had been given the responsibility of introducing the new concept and install at least eight AVMs in Patna junction platforms.
''On the basis of their success and maintaining good quality, similar machines would be introduced in all other busy stations across the country in phased manners,'' Mr Rana pointed out.
Elaborating the concept further, he said the new AVMs would ensure total cleanliness of platforms by replacing coal-fired sigris, kerosene stoves and other cooking mediums with modern equipments.
Refusing to speak about the quantum of investment, Mr Rana, however, claimed that following the introduction of the Pilot project a new vista of the railway catering service would be opened for millions of passengers.