Protect homeless people from winter vagaries: High Court to Govt

Seeks report on measures to prevent sale of contaminated drugs, food items

Jammu and Kashmir High Court Tuesday directed the state government to take measures for protecting flood-hit people especially those putting up in “tented accommodations” against vagaries of winter in Kashmir.

The direction was given by a Division Bench of the High Court comprising Justice Muhammad Yaqoob Mir and Justice Muzaffar Hussain Attar while hearing a Public Interest Litigation.
“Most of the flood hit families are residing in the tented accommodations and it shall not be feasible in view of the severe cold during nights which is to get intensified day by day. Therefore they are required to be rehabilitated in a manner so as to protect them against vagaries of weather and harshness of coming winter season,” the Division Bench observed.
Upon this, Advocate General, M I Qadri, sought time for filing a response by November 3—the time granted to him by the court.
Kashmir was hit by devastating floods on September 7 submerging localities on both sides of river Jhelum. In another direction, the High Court directed Drugs and Food Control Organization to submit its report about follow-up action on steps taken by it to prevent sale of contaminated medicine and food items following the devastating floods.
The direction followed perusal of the affidavit and compliance filed by the Deputy Controller, Drugs and Food Control Organization. In the affidavit, the Deputy Controller submitted that after the devastating floods hit the Valley, supervisory enforcement staff carried out extensive inspection and checked 845 food establishments and 189 drug sale establishments.
He submitted that during the drive, operation of 21 drug sale establishments was suspended for a period ranging from two to seven days depending upon the severity of contravention under the provisions of Drugs and Cosmetics Act, 1940 and Rules. The affidavit states that the operation of these shops shall be allowed only upon verification of satisfactory compliance of their sanitary conditions as well as scrutiny of their inventory by the empowered authorities after suspension period is over. The affidavit further stated that medicines worth approximately Rs 50000 mostly those which were contaminated or touched by flood water were confiscated on spot. Similarly it states that food items mainly of perishable nature were destroyed on spot by the functionaries working at cutting edge level i.e. food safety officers by invoking the provisions of section 38(4) of FSS Act, 2006.
“The department is still in the process of reaching to the interiors, adjoining districts of flood hit areas and has sought help of District Administration to ensure that the general public is provided safe and wholesome drug and food articles for consumption,” the Deputy Controller, Drugs and Food Control Organization stated in the affidavit.
Another report was filed by Director CAPD wherein he stated that various steps have been taken to provide ration to flood affected people.
However, the court observed that “nothing has been said about the follow up and the change in ground realities.”
“Therefore fresh affidavit shall be filed wherein it shall be clearly indicated as to what has been the impact of the directions, instructions on ground level,” the court said.

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