The state food and drug laboratory at Namkum in Ranchi. Picture by Hardeep Singh
Ranchi, Sept. 28: After several hiccups, the Rs 2-crore state food and drugs laboratory is expected to start operations next week on the Namkum health directorate campus, paving the way for authentic tests of food and medicine that Jharkhand consumes.
A selection panel set up by the health department has finally recruited 14 technical personnel, seven for each of the twin facilities, including a food analyst and drug specialist.
Though the recruitment process began in January and advertisements were floated in March, the final list became ready only yesterday.
Of the duo, the food lab had started in 2008 with World Bank aid during former chief minister Madhu Koda’s tenure, but shut shop within a year, succumbing to staff crunch and power bills to the tune of Rs 29 lakh. Its counterpart for drugs will make its debut.
The state government passed its Food Safety Act in January, leading to an urgency to open laboratories for regular food and drugs testing and audits. The need became imperative with Food Safety and Standards Authority of India sounding an alarm over adulterated milk sold in the state.
“Our teams are in place,” state food controller T.P. Burnwal told The Telegraph. “The food lab has seven personnel, including analyst J.K. Singh, who headed the facility after inception and then went to Bihar when it shut down. We have brought him back now,” said Burnwal.
Heading the drug control team will be Satendra Singh. Six persons, including lab assistants and technicians, will report to him.
National Rural Health Mission (Jharkhand) will fund the salaries of the 14 experts.
On why the hiring process trundled slowly, Burnwal said they were raring to start, but the health department took a “little extra time” as it wanted to launch both the food and drug testing facilities together.
Director-in-chief (drug) S.K. Mukhopadhyay, Burnwal’s counterpart, couldn’t be contacted for comments, but an official, who did not want to come on record, said it was only proper that facilities on the same campus started together.
A panel member said there were a number of formalities to reckon with. “Even now, a compulsory formal notification on the recruitment of lab chiefs J.K. Singh and Satendra Singh, is awaited from the health department,” he said.