By Vijay Darda
You must have seen the signboards at myriad shops claiming that pure ghee, pure oil or pure milk is available here! Or unadulterated spices are available here! Advertisements also make tall claims of purity.
Obviously, the need to emphasise the word ‘pure’ is used because adulteration has become part and parcel of our daily lives. There is an atmosphere of suspicion that makes us doubt whether what we are buying is pure or not?
The market of adulterated goods has spread throughout the country. From the village to the city! But it is the city which is the bigger victim of this adulteration racket as urbanites want everything ‘ready to use’ goods. Even today village folks try to get turmeric ground manually but this way of grinding spices has almost come to an end in cities.
Do you know that hundreds of cases of turmeric being adulterated with yellow clay have been reported? When you buy black pepper do you know how many seeds of papaya have been found in it? We usually do not see it and thus become victims of adulteration. Even if you try to see, adulteration is done in such a skillful manner that you just cannot detect adulterants.
The government has appointed a full-fledged staff to detect adulteration. There is no dearth of law. There was a law to stop adulteration even before independence and it is there even after independence. The Prevention of Food Adulteration Act was passed in 1954. It was applied in the next year i.e. in 1955 but it reported no success in preventing adulteration.
I raised the issue several times in the committee of Parliament and insisted that purity of goods should be ensured. After this, some other provisions were added in the law but the circumstances remained the same and unchanged. The law enforcement staff does not show any action. Now the Maharashtra government has passed a Bill in the Assembly that stipulates that those who indulge in adulteration will be awarded life imprisonment.
But the question is will it be possible to send all the adulterators to jail? It is a very simple fact that unless and until the law enforcement body is empowered and the methodology of that department is made transparent, the adulterators will not be afraid of law. Food inspectors have to be made accountable so that if adulteration is found in their area, they will also be punished. It is only when such a system is put in place that we will be able to control the problem.
It is ironical that while the milk and ghee are becoming popular abroad because they are very healthy, the milk or ghee available in India lacks quality. Why? Many of you may have felt that the milk that is delivered to you is quite substandard. You only complain to the milkman. Do you know that as a rule 3.5 per cent fat should be there in cow’s milk?
Similarly, the buffalo milk should have at least 5 per cent fat. Do you get the milk that has so much fat? During the festive season, adulteration is at its peak. An essential dairy product like ‘Mawa’ is invariably adulterated. Even Paneer or curd is not pure.
Many of you may not be aware of the fact that colour is used to make vegetable green. Fruits are polished with wax to make them look attractive. Fruits are injected with chemicals to make them lush and juicy. Thus, the fruit that we eat for health becomes poison. All this affects our health.
Consumption of adulterated eatables causes ailments and we have to spend our hard-earned money for treatment. The adulterators have become so bold that they have started adulterating medicines too. The purchase of medicines in government hospitals is always under the scope of doubt as far as quality is concerned. It is no coincidence that even our roads are not untouched by this scourge. Roads are becoming inferior.
In fact, the adulterators have no fear of the law. They are running amok on account of administrative negligence. I am of the view that a mega campaign should be started simultaneously all over India against adulteration. The adulterators must be dealt with sternly. I congratulate the chief minister Devendra Fadnavis for taking a strong step. Let’s hope that the fear of life imprisonment will instill dread in the minds of the adulterators and they will desist from such acts.
Vijay Darda has been the chief visionary and driving force behind Lokmat, a leading multi-platform media company. He is a recipient of several prestigious awards including the Feroze Gandhi Memorial Award for excellence in journalism in 1990-91.
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