VIJAYAWADA: Bifurcation blues are still haunting Andhra Pradesh in acquiring a state-level food laboratory for itself.
Though the Institute of Preventive Medicine (IPM), under which AP’s food laboratory works, is incorporated under Schedule X of Andhra Pradesh Reorganisation Act, 2014, so far, the IPM’s assets, equipment and staff have not been bifurcated between Andhra Pradesh and Telangana. Thus, AP still has to send all its food samples to IPM in Hyderabad for analysis.
This is mainly because the TS government is reportedly continuing to buy time before going ahead with division of IPM between both AP and TS. Sources say this is mainly because IPM has huge assets in Hyderabad, whose value is very high.
On the other hand, though a proposal was sent to AP government for developing the regional food lab located in Visakhapatnam as the state food lab three years ago at an estimated cost of Rs. 10–15 crore; there has been no progress on it so far. The situation in AP with regard to testing food products turned quite bad after the existing regional food lab in Visakhapatnam suffered heavy damage because of cyclone Hudhud. However, the building has since then been renovated at a cost of nearly Rs. 1.65 crore.
IPM authorities say if a big building is made available in Visakhapatnam and all requisite equipment installed and technical manpower appointed, it will help carry out tests, mainly on samples of food and water. Results of samples would thus be available sooner, unlike the present practice of sending samples to IPM in Hyderabad and waiting too long for results.
During the recent “mystery illness” spreading in Eluru, several central agencies like AIIMS, IICT, CCMB, NIN and NCDC sent samples of food items including rice, vegetables, water and milk, apart from blood and urine of people to their own respective labs, instead of testing them in AP itself.
However, there are private labs approved by National Accreditation Board for Testing and Calibration Laboratories located in Vijayawada, Visakhapatnam, Guntur and other places in the state. They, however, charge heavily – Rs. 12,000 to Rs. 13,000 for a single test of food samples.
While this is so, IPM itself is facing shortage of manpower as recruitment of analysts and other employees has been pending for the past 20–25 years. At present, it is running with only skeletal staff. So is the case with the Food Safety Department, which is suffering from shortage of manpower.
IPM director Manjari said, “We have submitted a proposal to AP government for developing the regional lab as a state food lab in Visakhapatnam. We are awaiting response from the state government.”