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Taking over from IRCTC (Indian Railways Catering and Tourism Corporation), the railway board has given the responsibility of setting up major static commercial units such as food plazas, fast food units and restaurants to zonal railways.

IRCTC, the tourism and catering arm of Indian Railways, has been entrusted to set up these units, however, many spaces allotted continued to remain vacant, an official order said.

The vacant spaces are leading to non-provision of passenger service and massive loss of railway revenue. Hence, various railway zones have requested the railway board for delegation of power to operate such commercial catering units.

Following the examination of matter at the Board, the railways has decided to give powers to general managers of zonal railways to conduct review of sites for major commercial catering units like food plazas, food courts and restaurants.

After the review, the managers have been directed to set up commercial food joints with provision of local cuisine on the sites which have been found vacant for one year or more.

The sites being taken over from IRCTC may follow due process of coordination and take into consideration the terms and conditions of existing contracts/agreements, if any, the railways order said.

Further, the food units will be allotted through open tender process for a period of nine years. The minimum reserve price for tendering will also be fixed in line with the Catering Policy 2017.

Zonal railways are advised to take necessary action in accordance with the above, the railways order noted.

News agency PTI reported that as many as 100-150 such static units are planned to be set up by the zonal railways.

IRCTC has been unable to set up these food courts primarily because of high licence fee, high rate of rail land and wrong choice of place for setting up such units as stipulated in the catering policy of 2017, the report noted, adding that a review of the policy is currently underway.

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