Perturbing reports of some chemists palming off drugs contaminated by floods have been offset by uncharacteristic vigilance by the Drug and Food Control Organisation which has recently suspended the licences of seven more retailers involved in this malpractice. Similarly, the gutsy Health Officer of the Srinagar Municipal Corporation and her team have been cracking down on the sale of spoilt food items.
Laudably, and for a change, instructions are said to have come from the very top asking officers concerned to make no compromises on issues related to public health. This is quite a contrast to the ‘turn-a-blind-eye-policy’ some members of the government would often force upon officials burdened with a sense of duty.
Though it would be unfair to tar-brush the entire lot of pharmaceutical traders, the fraternity does harbour sections partial to shady deals and reprehensible practices like supplying substandard and even spurious products. The volume of this illicit trade has been increasing over the years, with overt and covert connivance, and protection, of influential politicians and bureaucrats, who have vested financial interests in myriad industries, drug manufacture included. It is only natural that such elements will bank on the patronage they have long enjoyed and deem themselves untouchable.
It would be risky to speculate on how long upright officers would continue to receive the backing necessary for discharging their duties professionally and without fear or favour, even when the state’s judiciary has been keeping a sharp and watchful eye on the government , and issuing timely and urgent directives in the post-flood situation. Mainly due to the High Court’s repeated admonishments, media reports on illegal constructions coming up in flood-hit areas appear to be taken note of.
Still, grave concerns have risen afresh that some in Kashmir think little of taking advantage of the misfortunes of their brothers and sisters, and put their health and life in jeopardy by putting harmful food items and drugs on sale. It makes a mockery of the selflessness, bravery and solidarity people have displayed in saving, rescuing and feeding each other when tens of thousands of homes were submerged and cut off.