Published On : Fri, Nov 6th, 2015

Single officer loaded with the accountability of 11 districts!

Test Lab without modern facilities
Shortage of staff major cause of delay in submitting test reports

In-charge officer of Nagpur-based Regional Public Health Laboratory (RPHL), Arun Aurale, is required to handle the responsibilities of both the divisions of Vidarbha, Nagpur and Amravati, which means that he is handling the accountability of 11 districts of Vidarbha. He is thus required to stay at Amravati one half of the time, and at Nagpur another half of the time. As a result, the tests of hundreds of samples are held up. Under provisions, the test-report which is required to be submitted within 14 days, keeps lingering for months together.

It may be mentioned that food adulteration is a challenging task for the governments. Supreme Court has already pulled up the governments at the Centre and in states on the point of growing cases of food adulteration and defaulters going scot free, and therefore, the right norms of test for adulteration with modern test-equipment are necessary.

The samples sent from all 6 districts of Nagpur division, like Nagpur, Bhandara, Gondia, Gadchiroli, Chandrapur, and Wardha; as well as 5 districts of Amravati division, like, Amravati, Akola, Yavatmal, Buldhana and Washim are tested by RPHL Nagpur. At the same time, it tests the samples of districts from other divisions. In the Lab food-analyst is required to test the adulterated samples, for which Aurale is already there in RPHL, Nagpur. Aurale has done the course of national level as food analyst. Here, the question is as to how one man can complete tests in time unless he should have his assistants to assist him for expediting the work.

It may be mentioned here that every month about 50 samples from 6 districts are sent to RPHL Nagpur.

Exceptionally, in the month of October, the Lab received as many as 115 samples for test. There is shortage of staff and modern equipment to carry outs tests, which cause delay in conducting tests in time.

The test of adulteration in food stuffs does not mean simply addition of external elements. The test also implies to ascertain whether the internal or intrinsic elements in the composition are as per norms. A report to the state government ash been sent for enhancement of modern means of testing and sufficient staffing as well, and a new building is under completion.

Cases are tried after test report only
The Food and Drug Administration department tries the cases of adulteration only after receiving the test reports, and the official of the post of commissioner or his assistant commissioner hears the case and imposes fine on the defaulter. But the cases of personal harm or harm to life of consumers are forwarded to the court which can impose fine ranging from rupees one lakh to five lakh. The Lab tests kirana items, like, food-grains, oil, ghee, condiments, sweets, chocolate, bottled items, sauce, eatables and so on and also water.

The present building is not in good condition, so new building of RPHL is reaching its completion and the new Lab will be set up there. But again, to expedite the work of testing samples more staff needs to be appointed the new modern equipment bought.