PIL on Food Safety Act
Not just on labs, we have failed even on basics.
The Chief Secretary has candidly admitted before the Division Bench of the State High Court the failure of the State Administration in enforcing the provisions of Food Safety Act, 2006 since the inception when the legislation came into effect. (GK 15 May). He has assured the Hon’ble Court that the State would be soon initiating action to set up two technologically advanced laboratories at Jammu and Srinagar to check the menace of food adulteration and would not wait for the transfer of funds from the Central Government for the purpose.
The Chief Secretary was personally present in the case on the summons of the High Court along with some senior officers of the State Government in a PIL filed against the State and on his assurance the Court dropped proceedings against the erring officials.
Hopefully, the assurance handed down by the CS will be carried into effect at the earliest. But, it is a sheer apathy that nothing in our State now seems to work till the Courts intervene. It has, so to say, become a regular feature that the State apparatus swings into action only when the courts are actively involved. This reflects very poorly on the officials who shy away from their assigned duties and responsibilities and whose culpable negligence is largely responsible for the suffering of the people and in the falling standards of health.
The two technologically advanced labs to be set up in place of the existing old and defunct labs will indeed ask for time even if the State accords top priority as it has promised the High Court. How about then the intervening time? The public is not expected to continue to suffer as it is now. It is widely acknowledged that the adulteration of food items is continuing on a massive scale here and no one in the authority seems to be bothered even to enforce a semblance of order. It has resultantly shaken the public faith and confidence in the Government’s ability to check this malaise.
Therefore, it is important that the Government does something to establish the supremacy of law. Thus, without waiting for the labs to come up, it is imperative that the State Administration swings into action against those involved in selling adulterated food items to the general public. That has to be done on a non-stop basis to restore semblance of order so that the general public heaves a sigh of relief.
We see a mushroom growth in hand carts all over the city selling food items like vegetables and fruits. Most of the cart sellers cut open fruits to lure public inspite of the fact that the surroundings all over the city have become highly dirty and dusty. The mammoth growth in the vehicular traffic is largely responsible for this state of affair. Given the scale of traffic mess, it is unlikely that the environment around will show any noticeable improvement.
Therefore, the officials of the department concerned need to launch a massive awareness program advising general public to desist from purchasing food items and fruits that are cut and sold in the open on carts. Simultaneously, such food items should be seized and destroyed on the spot and the sellers fined so that they refrain from repeating such acts. Similar action also needs to o be taken against shop keepers dealing in food items who show insensitivity to public health. The Department concerned may make use of audio visual aids for creating public awareness on mass scale.
It is also important that people involved in the adulteration of food items like milk are subjected to regular checks against adulteration. Not only should the substandard and adulterated milk be destroyed on the spot, but the dealers subjected to heavy fines and even imprisonment. The resolve of the Government should appear to the public firm and uncompromising. That will help changing public mind against food adulteration.
If the State Administration takes these small but significant basic steps, no wonder the public faith and confidence will be restored in its ability to cope with the situation. There is no doubt in the fact that the falling standards of health conditions are largely caused by adulteration of food items . Therefore, any action aimed at checking the menace of food adulteration will positively reflect on the health of our people. Let the basics be taken care of immediately to improve the food standard scenario. The use of sophisticated labs will then become more practicable. The need of the hour is improving the basics. The rest can always follow.