SrinagarThe State government on Monday appointed Dr Pawan Kotwal (IAS), Principal Secretary to the Government Health and Medical Education Department, as the Commissioner of Food Safety in addition to his own duties.
A notification in this regard was issued by the government under Food Safety and Standards Act 2006 and comes two weeks after the J&K high court pulled up the state for remaining behind in appointing the Commissioner.
During the suo-moto hearing of a Public Interest Litigation, Dr. Pawan Kotwal, who was present before the court on June 17, had stated that the process of having a full time Commissioner of Food Safety was under way. The proposal is pending with the Finance Department for financial approval, Kotwal had said, following which the high court had directed the Finance Department to clear the proposal within a week.
The court had stressed that the entire organizational structure envisaged under the Food Safety and Standards Act 2006 required that all the functionaries should be in place because specific functions have been given to officers of each tier.
The lowest in the ladder is the Food Safety Officer, then Designated Officer, Assistant Commissioner and Commissioner of Food Safety on the top.
In so far as reporting of samples was concerned, the first point is collection and that is to be done by the Food Safety Officer. Thereafter, the samples are forwarded to the Food Analyst through the Designated Officers. It is the Food Analyst who analyses the samples and then, depending upon the seriousness of offence, whether it is a case of fine or sentence or sentence of more than three years, further action has to be taken by the Designated Officer or by Commissioner Food Safety, the court had underlined. Unless and until the entire manpower is in place, the proper functioning of the Act would not be possible, the court had said
In so far as Food Safety Officers are concerned, there are 106 sanctioned posts, out of which 70 are filled while 20 FSOs are holding the posts of Designated Officers as Incharge but not in a substantive capacity.
Once they are granted substantive capacities as Designated Officers, 20 posts of Food Safety Officers would become available which would have to be filled up, the court had said.
Besides, there are 16 posts of FSOS which are lying vacant and the process in respect of them has been initiated by the government. The government informed the court that the examination in respect of the 16 posts conducted by the J&K Service Selection Board on 6 July this year and its result was awaited.