Maharashtra's Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has started its crackdown on illegal sale and hoarding of gutka and pan masala just hours after a one-year ban on such tobacco products came into effect on Friday.
The FDA said that it has dispatched teams of six assistant commissioners and 20 food inspectors to make surprise checks in areas such as Bandra and Bolaba to make sure that there were no hoardings advertizing the sales of gutka and pan masala.
Anyone found stocking and selling such tobacco products will face steep fines of Rs 25,000 for small vendors and over Rs 2 lakh and potentially six month jail term for retailers and wholesalers. In total, over 208 food inspectors will be deployed all over the state to make sure that the ban is being enforced.
Terming the ban as a "social mission", FDA commissioner Mahesh Zagade revealed that the FDA has also sought help from other agencies. "The FDA has also sought the help of other agencies such as police and the civic authorities to help in implementing the ban seriously. A total of 208 food safety officers and 59 BMC officials in the city will ensure that there is no manufacturing, distribution and sale of gutka and pan masala", he said.