Introduction to Blog

I launched the website and the Blog after having spoken to government officials, political analysts and security experts specializing in South Asian affairs from three continents. The feedback was uniformly consistent. The bottom line is that when Kashmiris are suffering and the world has its own set of priorities, we need to find ways to help each other. We must be realistic, go beyond polemics and demagoguery, and propose innovative ideas that will bring peace, justice and prosperity in all of Jammu and Kashmir.

The author had two reasons to create this blog. First, it was to address the question that was being asked repeatedly, especially, by journalists and other observers in the U.S., U.K., and Canada, inquiring whether the Kashmiri society was concerned about social, cultural and environmental challenges in the valley given that only political upheaval and violence were reported or highlighted by media.

Second, the author has covered the entire spectrum of societal issues and challenges facing Kashmiri people over an 8-year period with the exception of politics given that politics gets all the exposure at the expense of REAL CHALLENGES that will likely result in irreversible degradation in the quality of life and the standard of living for future generations of Kashmiris to come.

The author stopped adding additional material to the Blog once it was felt that most, if not all, concerns, challenges and issues facing the Kashmiri society are cataloged in the Blog. There are over 1900 entries in the Blog and most commentaries include short biographical sketches of authors to bring readers close to the essence of Kashmir. Unfortunately, the 8-year assessment also indicates that neither Kashmiri civil society, nor intellectuals or political leadership have any inclination or enthusiasm in pursuing issues that do not coincide with their vested political agendas. What it means for the future of Kashmiri children and their children is unfathomable. But the evidence is all laid out.

This Blog is a reality check on Kashmir. It is a historical record of how Kashmir lost its way.

Vijay Sazawal, Ph.D.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Contaminated Food Supply Chain

After the "Milkgate", the High Court is looking for answers

Is food in J&K safe?

Srinagar: The High Court has directed the state government to report to it about the steps taken with regard to implementation of Food Safety Standards Act of 2006 file compliance report on steps taken to implement Food Safety and Standard Act.

In its order, a division bench comprising Justices Virender Singh and Muzaffar Hussain Attar, the state government has been asked to file a compliance report with regard to implementation of Food Safety Act within two weeks.

The bench has issued notices to the respondents asking them to file their reports within two weeks and has also ordered the case be listed for hearing immediately after two weeks subject to the availability of the bench.

The order has come in a Public Interest Litigation filed by Advocate Sheikh Muhammad Ayoub, seeking directions for implementation of Food Safety Standards Act 2006 and Food Safety & Standards Rules 2011.

Earlier Advocate Ayoub had submitted before the division bench about non-implementation of the Food Safety Act and the Rules by the state government terming it a grave issue which according to him requires to be taken seriously.

He had further submitted the Food Safety Act 2006 and Food Safety and Standards Rules of 2011 provide that the post of Commissioner Food Safety should be manned by a person of Commissioner Secretary rank, while in J&K an Incharge Drug Controller has been assigned the job, who according to the counsel, lacks the basic eligibility and qualification.

“The present incumbent is not competent to hold the post and sanction any prosecution” he argued, adding that the respondent “is not in a position to take any action against the person found guilty under the Act and Rules. Adulterated food items are openly sold and many spices and edibles in the market are unsafe for consumption as the Act and Rules have not been implemented,” he submitted before the division bench on Wednesday.

In his petition, advocate Ayoub, has submitted that adulterated milk, sub standard and misbranded food products are being sold in the market in Jammu and Kashmir without any check. “Almost all spices and edible items from A to Z sold in the market are unsafe for human consumption. In the entire state particularly in the valley the milk which is being sold in the market is 80 per cent adulterated, which has been certified by the Food safety and Standards Authority of India,” reads the PIL on Food Safety in J&K.

The petitioner has further pointed out in his petition that the designated officers or food safety officers have miserably failed to show any positive development from the date Food Safety and Standards Act 2006 and Food Safety and Standards Rules 2011, came into force by checking and taking the samples from the market, to impose the penalty or launch prosecution as per Food Safety Act. “There is no responsibility or accountability to the so called designated officers or food safety officers particularly in the twin cities of the state,” reads the PIL on Food Safety in J&K.

(Kashmir Times)

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