Form advocates' panel to argue case in SC: DV to CM

BJP takes out huge rally against move to ban arecanut

 Former chief minister D V Sadananda Gowda has given an ultimatum to Chief Minister Siddaramaiah to appoint an advocates’ panel to argue against the move to ban arecanut at Supreme Court, within January 6.  

Addressing a protest rally organised by Bharatiya Janatha Party (BJP) against arecanut ban in front of DC office on Thursday, he demanded the CM to withdraw a letter written to the food and civil supply board asking for alternative to arecanut. He also wanted a board for arecanut one the lines of Tobacco Development Board. The former CM said that BJP would boycott the upcoming Assembly session, if the demand of arecanut farmers is not met.

Arecanut is the lifeline for the farmers of 14 states and 11 districts of Karnataka. Around 65 per cent areca farmers are from Karnataka which is upto 25 lakhs. When areca farmers are facing loss because of fruit rot diseases, the state government is counting the possible tax loss as Rs 628 crore. The Horticulture Department had released a mere Rs 25 crore and government says that it has distributed compensation to all.

“The Central Health and Family Welfare Ministry has prepared a report based on internet data that arecanut is bad for health. But, according to the Kerala High Court judgement and Chennai Medical Hospital Research Centre, arecanut is good for health in many ways. But State has failed in producing all available documents to the Central government. The CM has also withdrawn the advocate panel headed by K N Bhat which was appointed by the BJP government to argue against areca ban. It is shameful on the part of the state government,” he said.

“The State government is playing cheap politics with the life of around 25 lakh areca farmers of the state. Arecanut is part of our culture and it can never be banned. Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi has also assured of fighting against the proposal,” he added. 

BJP Raitha Morcha President Araga Jnanendra said that there is no politics while fighting against areca ban. Giving example of Theerthahalli and nearby areas of Chikmagalur district, he said, because of areca, people who were living in huts are living in good houses. Areca has financially strengthened everyone including a daily wage labourer, he said.

“All began with lobby of cigarette companies. In 1991, ITC Cigarette Company had posted a profit of $ 191 billion, but it could not extend its market. Because of a strong lobby, gutka was banned. However, the then Vajpayee government hiked the import duty on areca which saved the farmers for time being. Now again lobby is being continued.

Congressmen are misleading people saying that nothing will happen. But, out of 1300 page report submitted by the Central government, 900 pages deal with arecanut ban. Additional Solicitor General Indira Jaisingh has argued that poor don’t smoke cigarette, so it is less dangerous. Though the CM had said that Central Minister for Health and Family Welfare Ghulam Nabi Azad has assured that the government won’t ban areca, the ministry has not issued any statement.

The Union Petroleum Minister M Veerappa Moily has said that protest against areca is just waste of time. But, if Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi can feel for homosexuals and they think about amendment, why they can’t do in the case of arecanut farmers,” he said. 

Mangalore MP Nalin Kumar Kateel said the State government should send a delegation to discuss the issue with the Central government. The government should appoint a panel of lawyers to argue in Supreme Court.

The Central Government should take back the affidavit submitted to the Supreme Court asking to ban arecanut. There should be a research on medicinal quality of arecanut, he wanted.

Earlier, a huge protest rally was carried out from Jyothi Circle (Dr Ambedkar Circle) to the Deputy Commissioner’s office. Slogans were shouted against the State government and a memorandum was submitted to the Chief Minister through the DC.

BJP District President Pratap Simha Nayak, State Vice President Sulochana J K Bhat, MLCs Ganesh Karnik, Monappa Bhandary, former minister Krishna J Palemar, former deputy speaker Yogish Bhat, Zilla Panchayat President Koragappa Naik and others were present.

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