The food department in India had banned gutka and restricted its sale in 2012 under the Cigarettes and Other products Act 2003. Officials of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) said that the decision to make the manufacture, sale and distribution of gutka a non-bailable offence would make the enforcement of its ban more effective and stringent in Maharashtra, India.
Shashikant Kekare, joint commissioner (food), FDA, Pune division, said, "Currently, if a person is found selling gutka, he is arrested after we file a police complaint. However, offenders get bail within two to three days and go back to selling gutka. This will change once it becomes a non-bailable offence."
AdvertisementThe terms of punishment will be the same for all guilty parties from a hawker selling small quantities to a businessman dealing with huge amounts of gutka. "When we make inquiries at the manufacturer level to trace the origin of the confiscated gutka, we have to struggle a lot to prove the offence. But if police are involved in the investigations, then it's easier to solve cases with our vast network and manpower," he added.
The FDA officials have seized gutka worth Rs. 6.64 crore in Pune after the ban came into force. "We have conducted raids on 269 establishments and lodged 200 FIRs against the offenders since 2012. We raided go downs from where the maximum amount of gutka was seized, followed by shops, paan stalls and residential premises," said Shivkumar Kodgire, Assistant Commissioner (food), FDA, Pune.
Following the ban, one of the resourceful methods of selling gutka that emerged was the 'supari mix'. Supari (betelnut) and jarda (flavored tobacco), the main ingredients of gutka, are being sold in separate pouches as 'supari mix'.
The FDA constantly keeps a check on the entry of new offenders in the black market and to make the Food Safety and Standards Act, 2006, more effective.
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