Taking care of food safety
It is the responsibility of the government and its concerned agencies to ensure semblance of law everywhere within the territorial parameters of its jurisdiction. Besides the big political and developmental issues, even everything mundane, if it concerns people, too is within the government’s mandate, enjoining upon it to ensure that masses are not troubled. This is exactly where the role of the government and its agencies, particularly those vested with the responsibility of keeping an eye on the market places and ensuring that unscrupulous people and their practices are kept at bay, comes in. But unfortunately, on this count there is not much to the government’s credit, for the simple reason that its agencies have perfected the art of turning a blind eye to the illegal practices which are no longer an aberration but a general rule as far as the business conducted in our market-places is concerned.
Take for instance the case of food stuffs sold here. Even as it is common place knowledge that adulteration of edibles has become a norm here, the agencies vested with the job of taking action against the greedy businesses and people associated, are desperately found wanting both in their will as well as wherewithal to deal with the problem. Now what could be a better example to substantiate the point than the fact that the Srinagar Municipal Corporation as well as Drug and Food Control Organization do not have even any worthwhile laboratory facilities to analyze and check adulterated foods! Interestingly SMC, which came into existence in 1886, has for the past over 12 decades of its being not even felt the need of such a facility.
Once in a while, SMC and Drug and Food Control authorities, and at times even the Food, Civil Supplies and Consumer Affairs department officials inform public that their so-called checking squads have raided market-places and procured food samples for lab analyses to check them for adulteration if any. Thereafter, never ever are people informed about any subsequent action, not to mention of anyone being chargesheeted for adulteration! Instead what happens usually is that the food samples taken away from the markets are dumped into the cupboards of the concerned agencies, and the accused are simply given a clean chit. Of course it will be only too naïve to think that this happens without a cause – reason being the same as the ones which have attracted J&K enough notoriety of being the one of the most-corrupt places.
Now that the UT administration has started a process of reforming all sectors, this vital sector too should be taken care of. The administration should ensure that whatever the food items are sold in the markets are safe. People deserve to have access to safe food and government has to ensure that a close eye is kept on those dealing in food businesses and ensure that adulterators are not allowed to have a free run.