The district health office has failed to strictly implement the Food Standards and Safety Rules (FSSR) 2011, in the district. Since the implementation of the norms in the district, only around 10% vendors, dealing in food items, have registered themselves with the health department.
Officials at the health department said that the state government was not strict on implementing the licensing process and keeps on extending the deadline for registration of the shops with the department. The last deadline expired on August 31, 2014.
A few days before the expiration of the deadline, the municipal commissioner's office had announced that the deadline for getting registered with the department under the Act, mandatory for all food suppliers of the district, would not be extended, however a few days before its expiry, it was again extended for six months.
Sukhrao Singh, an official of the department, said, "Due to the constant extension of the deadline, vendors are not taking the registration process seriously. Some of the vendors, who got registered under the FSSA in 2011 for five years, are now red-faced for getting themselves registered, whereas other shops in their vicinity are functioning without registration."
This is not the only problem, the district received nearly Rs 5 crore for strengthening the food and drug administration (FDA), which was in accordance with an order passed by the Supreme Court. However, sources within the health department said that not a single penny has been spent till date.
A separate office and department was to be built for the officials of the health department dealing with food adulteration in the district. A right to information (RTI) application filed by this reporter clearly stated that the department has been created, but the information failed to mention the cost incurred in the process, despite the query being in the application.
It is a classic case of creating a department on pen and paper, but without any proper implementation at the grassroots-level. A visit to the food safety office, located in the civil surgeon's office complex, clearly shows that the department created is a single room office, with negligible facilities.
The officials working here have to run from pillar to post for getting facilities to carry onheir work. The height of irony is that the district health department started online registration of food vendors, but not a single computer has been installed in this one-room office for the purpose.
The department is completely dependent on the civil surgeon's office for basic amenities needed for keeping a tab on food adulteration in the district.
Balwinder Singh, district health officer, said, "Braving all these problems, our department is very prompt in handling adulteration-related issues."