By Kunal Rao
Delhi HC has sought the response of the Centre and FSSAI on a plea which had challenged the use of ethephon powder to ripen fruits stating that it is an insecticide laced with banned substances.
A bench of Chief Justice Rajendra Menon and Justice V Kameswar Rao issued notices to the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Ministry of Agriculture, Central Board of Excise and Customs and the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) on the plea which contended that use of this powder would have
ill-effects on public health.
The court’s order came while hearing a PIL filed by an advocate Shivashish Dwivedi and a marketing executive Kamal Kishore Dewan, seeking to quash a direction given by the FSSAI on August 16 which granted the use of ethephon powder for artificial ripening of fruits.
The plea contended that the direction and guidance has resulted in the Indian fruit market being flooded with hazardous and potentially life-threatening cartons imported from China. It also said that during transport from fruit mandis, ethephon is placed in direct contact with the fruits in order to artificially accelerate the natural ripening process.
The petition also stated that the sachets have been imported without checking the mandatory basic information like composition, concentration of ingredients, formula etc. It added that the use of such a substance is a gross violation of the fundamental rights to safe, pure and hazard free food.
The plea also stated that “ethephon” is laced with banned substances like calcium carbide as well as traces of heavy metal and toxic chemicals which have long-term ill-effects on public health if consumed by ordinary people.
The matter would be now heard on January 24 next year.
—India Legal Bureau