THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The first regional drug testing laboratory in Ernakulam, which was opened last year, is yet to become fully functional as the government has not provided the required analysts and other staff.
Inaugurated in December 2013, the analysts posted in the lab are those who have been deputed from the Drug Testing Lab in Thiruvananthapuram.
The lab is now functioning with five analysts in place of the required 12. Apart from the analysts, there is also a dearth of administrative staff.
Confirming that technical staff are yet to be appointed at the regional laboratory, Drugs Controller P Hariprasad said: “Clerical staff have been appointed but analysts are yet to be posted. The present analysts at the lab are deputed from Thiruvananthapuram Lab. The PSC list of analysts to be appointed has come out recently and I hope that the government will appoint them at the earliest.”
The govt had decided to set up the regional drug testing laboratory after it was found that the lone laboratory in Thiruvananthapuram could not handle the bulk samples send for testing from all over the state. About 4,800 samples are collected a month from the market for testing but the laboratory in Thiruvananthapuram has the facility to check only a minimal number.
Sources said that the department was not going to achieve the target of testing the maximum number of samples if the govt was moving at this pace. “The present analysts posted at the lab are from T’Puram. The govt should appoint new analysts at the lab if the target has to be achieved,” they said. Hariprasad, however, said that sample testing was going on at the laboratory for the last three months. “We just conduct about 25 tests per month now. Once the lab is fully operational, we hope to do at least 2,500 tests a year,” he said and added that the lab would be fully functional in a few months’ time. Even before the inauguration of the lab, allegations had been raised regarding sanctioning of various posts. Even the inauguration was delayed as the govt had not sanctioned the required posts. Though the Drugs Control Department had recommended 79 posts for the regional drug testing laboratory, the govt had sanctioned only 30 posts.