Panjim: The Environment and Pollution laboratory in the Directorate of Health Services, Panjim appears to be plagued with staff shortage.
This crucial department of the DHE is responsible for testing the quality of well water. People from across Goa visit the department with gallons of well water to check if their well water is safe to consume. However, since the last few months, people have been made to wait for two to three weeks to get their reports. Earlier the lab results were available within a week.
The problem is that there are only three staff currently working in the lab and it is learnt that all are overworked. A total of 12 staff members used to work in the lab but since the last two years, nine posts have fallen vacant. A staff member who is working as a chemist has been given an additional charge as an officer however it is learnt that she is handling the responsibilities that should have been handled by five people. She is presently on leave for 10 days.
When Herald visited the lab there was just one attendant on duty but he refused to comment on the prevailing situation. However, DHE sources said there have to be two attendants in the lab but one post is still vacant. The peon, who was appointed at the lab, has been assigned work in another department.
The lab is faced with another problem that is with regards to procurement of stock. Sources informed that in the past the officer had the mandate to order stock and chemicals for a full two years. But now the officers have to purchase the stock almost every day. This has hampered the efficiency of the already overburdened staff.
“This laboratory is the only place which does the testing of well water at affordable prices. Such a crucial department should have all the staff and resources needed to function properly”, said Dominic Noronha, a resident of Sirlim, who visited the lab last week to get his well water tested and has been told to visit the lab on November 27 to collect the report.
Herald contacted Raju Gawas, Director of Administration in DHE informed that there is a proposal to fill the vacant posts. Herald tried to contact the DHE Director but he did not pick up the calls. [H]