Centre won't classify areca nut as 'injurious' substance: CM

Centre won't classify areca nut  as 'injurious' substance: CM

Chief Minister Siddaramaiah on Monday quoted Union Health Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad as having “clarified” to him that there was “no proposal” before the Central government to classify areca nut as a substance injurious to health. 

“The Health Minister said there is no such proposal to classify areca nut as injurious to health. Before taking any decision on areca nut, the Union government will take the crop-growing states into confidence,” Siddaramaiah told reporters here after holding a meeting with Azad on the latest row over areca nut. 

The chief minister is said to have told Azad that the reported move by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare to classify areca nut as an injurious substance would “harm” farmers’ interests. 

“As lakhs of families depend on areca nut crops for their livelihood, the Centre must take the areca nut-growing states into confidence before taking any decision on the matter,” he said. 

The issue emerged after a high-level committee in the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, headed by its secretary, decided to treat areca nut as a substance injurious to health. It then sought scientific opinion from the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) to authenticate its decision. The ministry also said that if the FSSAI endorsed its opinion, it would prohibit the use of areca nut as an ingredient in all food products. 

At a separate meeting, Siddaramiah requested Commerce Minister Anand Sharma to scrap the penalty on farmers for growing tobacco more than the permitted quantity. 

The chief minister also held a preliminary meeting with the Congress Central Election Committee Chief, Madhusudan Mistry, on selecting the party’s candidates for Lok Sabha polls. Another meeting would be held on January 2 , he said. 

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