Food inspectors with the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) were promoted to food safety officers (FSOs) and asked to report to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) following changes to the Food Safety and Standardisation Act, but two-third of them have declined to do so.
Realising that by accepting service in the FDA they will be under the state government and can be transferred anywhere in the state, eight of the 12 officers have decided to stay back in the PMC.
These officers also claim that there was an order that had given them the choice between the PMC and the FDA and that they have chosen to remain with the PMC. According to these FSOs, they are not interested in joining the FDA as they do not want to be transferred to another city.
FSOs working with the FDA get transferred every three years within the state. “We don’t want to move to the FDA as we are happy doing our work here,” Ajit Bhujbal, an FSO with the PMC, said. “We are not ready to the join FDA and we have filed an application to stay in the PMC.”
Of the 12 PMC food inspectors gazzetted as FSOs, only four have decided to work with the FDA. “They had an option between the PMC and the FDA, and four people chose to go for FDA,” PMC Health Officer Somnath Pardeshi said. “The remaining eight have shown willingness to stay in the PMC. Though we can not issue licence through these FIs who are now FSOs, we have given other work to them.”
According to the state government gazette dated August 1, 2011, in pursuance of sub section (1) of section 37 of Food Safety and Standards Act 2006, the Commissioner of Food Safety appointed the food inspectors from various municipal corporations as FSOs for the respective area.
Joint Commissioner, FDA (food), S R Kekare said: “Eight of the employees concerned have chosen to stay with the PMC and only four will be in the FDA now. Also, the decision must have been taken or may be in process at the commissioner and state level. Yes, we have less manpower, but instead of cribbing about it we are doing our work effectively.”
The eight who have opted to remain with the PMC will now not continue as FSOs. Pardeshi said: “We have given them posts in the PMC according to their education and they will not be FSOs as their names will be omitted from the new gazette.”
Kekare said: “People who do not join FDA will not be FSOs in future. There will a finalisation of names, and after that those who haven’t joined FDA will not continue as a FSOs.”