Tura: An NGO working in the West Garo Hills region has raised questions on the Taxation department of the Garo Hills Autonomous District Council (GHADC) after it continued to provide a Trading for Non-Tribals (TNT) license to hawkers of allopathic medicines.
The matter came to light on Tuesday after the Durama Imbama Norimbi Dikkimbi A’chik Magiparang (DINDAM) NGO visited the weekly market at Garobadha in South West Garo Hills (SWGH) where they found three hawkers selling allopathic medicines to people.
All three hawkers were from Mankachar in Assam.
“We were informed through an anonymous call about hawkers selling allopathic medicines in the weekly market. They were selling these to unwitting villagers, acting as doctors and prescribing medicines without approval from any of the departments concerned, except for a TNT from the GHADC,” said DINDAM founding member Jaynie Sangma.
The activist questioned the right of the GHADC to issue medical distribution licenses to hawkers without even an iota of thought of the implications that it could have on the general public.
“We feel that this is possibly the first time in the country that such illegal acts have been allowed to prosper with such impunity. These hawkers have no authority or permission to operate from the various departments but shockingly have been given Trading by Non-Tribal (TNT) licenses from the taxation department of the GHADC, which has no authority on the sale of medicines,” the NGO added.
“What is the point of getting so many clearances and licenses to open a pharmacy when you can get a hawking license instead? This is ridiculous, to say the least, and sets a dangerous precedent. When we visited the drug inspector at Ampati, she too was shocked by what was happening and promised to look into the matter immediately,” Sangma added.
On May 31, the NGO tried to meet the deputy commissioner of WGH, Jagdish Chelani, in his office chambers to submit a complaint. However, the DC was unavailable due to prior commitments.
DINDAM added that Garobadha was just the tip of the iceberg as this practice was prevalent in almost all the weekly markets where hawkers were given a free hand at being doctors and pharmacists just to fill the coffers of the GHADC.
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“Most villages are unknowingly buying these medicines. This not only is a health hazard and illegal in nature, but it also has the potential to become catastrophic in nature. No law of the land, we are sure, allows for medicines to be sold openly without consultation, prescription or legal sanction by authorities,” added the NGO in their complaint.
Attempts to contact the Drugs Inspector of the South West Garo Hills proved futile.
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