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FDA fate hangs in balance

lucknow Updated: Oct 30, 2012 15:47 IST
Rajesh Kumar Singh
Rajesh Kumar Singh
Hindustan Times
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Set up in 2008 with the purpose to check sale of spurious drug and adulterated food items, the Food and Drug Administration today lies ‘defunct’ four years down the line. As a result, the drive against illegal drug and food business has come to a halt despite a spurt in the sale of the adulterated food items and sub standard drug in the market.

“FDA is running on paper. No IAS, IPS, PCS officer wants posting in FDA as it is considered a dumping ground and punishment posting,” a senior government officer said on Monday.

Also, the confusion over who controls the FDA at district level has resulted in a tug of war between district magistrates and chief medical officers, further slowing down the drive against adulterators in the districts during the festive season.

The state government had planned to establish FDA as a separate department with a principal secretary rank officer as its head. These days there is no principal secretary or commissioner in FDA. The FDA was carved out of the health and family welfare department. Now the principal secretary, health and family welfare, is also principal secretary of FDA.

The apathy of the state government toward FDA could be gauged from the fact that it is left with mere 33% of its workforce. The post of deputy commissioner and joint commissioner in the food and drug wing are lying vacant. Out of the 662 sanctioned posts of food safety officers’ 373 posts are vacant and of the 78 posts of chief food safety offices 20 posts are vacant. The 75 posts of designated officers are also lying vacant.

The designated officer posted in the district ensures implementation of the Food Safety and Standard Act. He has power to issue as well cancel the licence of the food traders, receive sample of edible items from FSO and send it for laboratory test, recommend to the commissioner FDA for prosecution of the traders indulging in adulterated food business, receives complaint from the common people and maintains record of the raids.

The story of the drug section is no different. Out of 104 posts of drug inspectors 36 posts are vacant. The post of joint commissioner and deputy commissioner is also vacant.

The impact of the large vacancy is very much visible on the working of the FDA. The working of the FDA remained paralysed during the festive season.

The food squad made no major seizures even as the adulterators had a field day. The report of the public analyst laboratory (PAL) indicates that there had been increase in the sale of the adulterated food items in the state.

In 2010 the state government ordered for the slapping of national security act (NSA) on those involved in the fake drug and adulterated food business. No action under NSA has been taken against the adulterators or the fake drug traders.

Meanwhile, deputy commissioner, FDA, Shyam Krishna said, “The drive against the sale of adulterated food items and sub standard drug is continuing. Since January to September, FDA conducted 8098 raids and 84,216 inspection on the establishments of the food traders. FDA has registered 2630 cases and Rs. 2.43 crore penalty has been collected. Raids on the drug traders was also continuing,” he said.