GHMC staff crunch ails public

GHMC staff crunch ails public
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Highlights

The Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC) officials have compromised on public health in their eagerness to achieve property tax targets. They have drafted all four food inspectors to collect property tax despite knowing full well that the city has been flooded with adulterated ghee, oil, spices and even a variety of sauces. 

Drafting of existing food inspectors for property tax collection hits monitoring of food establishments and eataries in the city

  • Food inspectors deputed to collect property tax
  • Public health at high risk in GHMC limits
  • About 50 food samples tested thrice week due to staff deficiency
  • Only state food testing laboratory for Telangana and Andhra Pradesh states
  • 26 food inspectors to take charge within three months
  • About 450 violation cases were book against 450 hotels in 2015

Hyderabad: The Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC) officials have compromised on public health in their eagerness to achieve property tax targets. They have drafted all four food inspectors to collect property tax despite knowing full well that the city has been flooded with adulterated ghee, oil, spices and even a variety of sauces.

Under the Food Safety and Standards Act, the city administration should have an adequate number of food safety officers to monitor all food establishments, draw samples for analysis and surveillance, act against unsafe food and ensure that food poisoning or similar such episodes do not occur. However, the civic body has only four food inspectors against a required strength of 30.

In GHMC limits, there are nearly 15,000 official eateries and more than 5,000 roadside pushcart vendors. However, all available food inspectors have been deputed on a special drive to collect property tax in order to reach their target within the stipulated time. Responding to queries, GHMC health wing officials denied having any role in collecting property tax till date but refused to elaborate. Instead, they said they had recently attended a training programme organised by the Commissioner of Food Safety.

Explaining the duties of food inspectors, a health wing official said, "We are expected to monitor all these facilities and ensure that food and water are proper. Also, they have to ensure that there is no contamination or poisoning, apart from ensuring that kitchens and serving areas are clean and hygienic." Responding to the shortage of staff in the health wing, officials said that an expert committee has recruited 26 food inspectors for the city limits and they would join duties within three months.

Interestingly, there is only one food sampling testing lab for both Telangana and Andhra Pradesh at Nacharam. Even that is facing a severe shortage of staff. GHMC health wing officials have been managing to test only 40 to 50 samples per day. The officials lamented that they could manage to inspect a few hotels in the city and book around 450 cases in 2015. Admitting that they could not inspect all the eateries in the city, officials said that the number of cases could have shown a three-folds increase had the food inspections been carried out sincerely.

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