92 accredited labs in country, J&K has none
Srinagar, May 14: Government today admitted in the Court that they have not implemented the Food Safety Act 2006 but assured that all aspects concerning the act will be reviewed and implemented.
Chief Secretary, B R Sharma, who made personal appearance before the State High Court today admitted that the Food Safety Act of 2006 has not been implemented in the manner, it had to be implemented in the State.
The CS assured the court that he will immediately take review of all the aspects concerning the implementation of the Act 2006 and further made assurance that funds for setting up of two technologically advanced laboratories for both at Jammu and Srinagar would be provided to the department without waiting for the financial assistance from the Central Government.
The Amicus Curie, senior advocate High Court, Bashir Ahmad Bashir, told the court that the Jammu and Kashmir is the only State in the country where there is no accredited food testing laboratory. “There are 92 accredited food testing laboratories across the country but J&K has none. Central Government in 2013 had asked the State to set up two laboratories in Jammu and Kashmir and had assured Rs 9 crore assistance and asked the State Government to pay Rs 3 crore but nothing has been done so far by the State Government”, he told Court.
The Division Bench of Justice MH Attar and Justice Ali Mohammad Magrey in view of the assurance given by the CS in the open court deferred initiation of disciplinary action against the authorities who failed to implement the Act till date.
Court expressed its serious concern over the casual approach of authorities with regard to non-implementation of Food Safety Act as submitted by CS itself and observed during the proceedings of the case: “This is not the question of a small water body and its encroachment. This is dealing with the health of the State, rich and poor, ruler and the ruled. Everybody’s health is involved in this issue” adding “all the officers have shown little concern as far as the implementation and the compliance of the Food Act is concerned”.
Court observed that necessity of directing appearance of senior functionaries of the State arose because huge public interest is involved in this PIL as also the report filed by the authorities under food safety indicates that two existing labs in the State are not only out dated but are literally non-operational and non-functional.
Court also observed to Advocate General that there is no proper lab at the moment. “Health of all is at stake, Mr AG, CS, your health is involved, and health of those who cannot reach this court is at stake. The issue is how to solve the issue of upgradation of the labs and the food analysts”, court further observed.
The assurance for providing funds by the State followed after the court pointed towards CS that ‘Forget the Central assistance’ it is the State Government which have to implement the Food Safety act. The State Government will provide funds for the upgradation of the labs at Jammu and Srinagar. “We cannot wait for the central funds to come and lives and health of the State is in your hands.”
Court while referring the extinction of water bodies by getting these water bodies encroached and to which the court is making its full efforts to get these water bodies to their original position observed to CS: “It is only to request you to look into the sad state of affairs. It is not about encroachment of the water body, which we can demolish and get back the water body. It concerns to the health of all of us. How to deal with this situation?”
Court also heavily came down on owners/processors/Managing Directors of the companies when counsel representing about 35 spice manufacturing companies submitted that it is costly to get the food samples tested. “As the Act & Rules are there they are to be followed. Why should you do the business if you are not in a position to follow the Act then do away with your business (court observed to Advocate Lone who was appearing for about 35 spice unit holders”.
“Why should you do the business if you are not in a position to follow the act? Then do away with your business (court observed to Advocate Lone who was appearing for about 35 spice unit holders.”
“The act is to be enforced at any cost. No excuse to be accepted. We will order cancelling of your licenses. If you not follow the Act? We will not allow any breach of the act and rules for your commercial activities and cannot make people to suffer”, court observed.
“We made it clear to authorities that who so ever has been involved at different points of time in implementing the Act of 2006, have exhibited only skin deep concern to the sufferings of people of the State. The State authorities in order to ameliorate the lot of suffering people are required to show sole deep concern”, reads the order.
Court has been provided the list of those manufacturing and food processing units which are located outside the State. “All the companies whose particulars are given in compliance report, are impleaded as party respondents in this petition”, reads the order and directed the Commissioner/Secretary Health & Family Welfare to provide full particulars of all these manufacturers, suppliers and processors by next date.
Court also directed the Commissioner Food Safety to inform to these manufacturers, suppliers, processors and companies to file their undertakings/affidavits before the Registrar in terms of previous orders. “The communication shall be send to them through e-mail/speed post to all these persons within one week from today and compliance report in this regard be filed before the next date”, court directed.
Senior counsel appearing Khyber Agro Pvt Ltd submitted that his client has suffered conviction and sentence, by the court of Judicial Magistrate Budgam and in consequence thereof, the production is stopped from April 7 as report of the public analyst is awaited, though the report from accredited laboratory has been received.
In terms of previous order, the said company (Khyber Agro) through its MD has filed affidavit but undertaking has not been filed till date, its counsel submitted that before filing undertaking, clarification is required to be made in respect of previous direction of this court and as per his submissions application in this behalf be filed by his client.
“The MD Khyber Agro Farms Pvt Ltd to file the undertaking in terms of aforesaid order and incase undertakings/affidavits are not filed then appropriate orders will be passed on next date”, the DB said.