What's the urgency to ban gutka, asks Sadananda

What's the urgency to ban gutka, asks Sadananda

The debate over the government’s “unilateral” decision to ban gutka continued in the Legislative Council on Wednesday with Opposition Leader D V Sadananda Gowda stressing that the State should help arecanut farmers tide over the problem.

The prices of arecanut crashed by at least Rs 2,000 per quintal across Karnataka barely 24 hours after the ban was announced, Gowda said.

“The previous Congress government, led by S M Krishna, had supported our agitation when prices of arecanut had crashed. He didn’t take time to convene an all-party meeting along with the other stakeholders to discuss the issue. But this government does not even want to talk about the matter,” Gowda said.

The former Chief Minister blamed the bureaucracy for taking the government for a ride and pushing it to take a hasty decision.

Discussion

“As per the Supreme Court directive, States were asked to file affidavits by June 25. The case was posted for July 26. What was the urgency to decide on the ban, without discussing the matter with all the stakeholders,” he sought to know. Gowda was particularly critical of Chief Minister Siddaramaiah for what he called “ignoring” the repercussions of the ban.

“Farmers have been petitioning the elected representatives from the arecanut-growing regions. It was not expected of the government to ban gutka without providing an alternative to farmers,” he said.

The ban on paan masala was also “thoughtless.” Paan masala has no proven record of being injurious to public health. “The Kerala High Court has, in fact, reversed the government’s decision to ban paan masala in that State,” Gowda pointed out.

BJP MLC Srinivas Poojar said people employed in the gutka industry had been pushed to the streets. In reply, Health Minister, U T Khader said that the government did not have any other option. “We had to comply with the SC directive. Even the Advocate General favoured the ban.”

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