Gutka may be banned in City

Law dept okays proposal blessed by CM

There is bad news in the offing for tobacco chewers in the national capital. Taking the cue from several states that have already banned the product, the Delhi government is now working towards imposing a complete ban on the sale and distribution of chewable tobacco – gutka – in the city.

After a go-ahead from the law department, which looked into the legality involved so that the decision to ban cannot be later challenged in the court, the food safety department of the government is preparing a detailed proposal for Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit’s consideration.

The ban will be imposed after securing her approval and that of the Cabinet. According to a reliable source in the Delhi Secretariat, the move already has Dikshit’s blessings.

In mid-July, the food safety department had sought the law department’s opinion on the issue. The latter has now  given its  green signal, according to a senior official of the food safety department.

“After some tobacco associations challenged the decision to ban tobacco products in some states, we thought it prudent to make the ban in Delhi difficult to challenge in courts. The law department believes that there should be no problem in going ahead with the plan and government is well within its limits to impose the ban in this regard,” revealed the official, adding that not only will the sale and distribution of gutka be banned, but also its storage and manufacture within the city limits.

Ban duration

As per clause 30 (2) of the Food Safety and Standards Act, 2006, the government can ban any product which is bad for health. “According to the Act, we can impose a ban for the duration of one year at time. However, it can be extended after each year,” clarified the official.

Madhya Pradesh, Kerala, Maharashtra, Bihar, Rajasthan and Goa have already banned the tobacco product under their respective public health laws. Recently, elders in Sarfabad village (Noida), about 20 km from national capital, banned gutka in their village where youngsters were becoming addicted to the products.

“Anybody who is caught selling gutka in the village will have to pay a fine of Rs 1,000 to the village panchayat while anyone found eating it will be punished by Rs 500 penalty,” said Vijay Yadav, a village resident.

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