Gauhati High Court has asked the Centre to frame appropriate rules to regulate the open availability of calcium carbide, a chemical used to artificially ripen fruits sold in markets.
The court issued the order while acting on a PIL filed by Bhaskar Baruah, an advocate in Assam, which sought the court’s intervention in raising concern about artificial ripening of fruits like banana, papaya and mango by using calcium carbide illegally.
It said excessive use of calcium carbide had an ill effect on people's health with reports suggesting that the same chemical was causing diseases like cancer.
The PIL demanded strict enforcement of the law by the Central and state government under the Food Safety Act, 2006 and framing of appropriate guidelines or policy to enforce strict prohibition or ban on the loose sale of calcium carbide in the open markets of Guwahati and the rest of Assam.
The petitioner said that due to the unabated use of calcium carbide in fruits, various chronic diseases like abdominal problems, skin diseases, cancer etc. have been growing in society. The easy availability of calcium carbide, a highly toxic and highly inflammable substance in the open market of Assam, in an unregulated manner has worsened the situation, said Baruah in his PIL.
The High Court, in its order issued on Saturday, referred to a judgment of the Telangana High Court in 2015 in which it sought steps to check the use of calcium carbide by unauthorised persons. It said the use of calcium carbide is permissible for industrial use only and should not be allowed for other purposes.
The Gauhati High Court in its order said, “We require the Central government to frame appropriate rules for regulating the open availability of calcium carbide in the market and for the purpose the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) and ministry of petroleum and natural gas may coordinate amongst themselves for achieving the purpose of framing the required rules.”
“The principal secretary to the government of Assam in the health and family welfare department is also directed to monitor the activities of senior food inspectors towards their requirement for complying with the order," the court further said.