Gutkha,paan masala take rail route to city

FDA seeks WR,CR cooperation to check smuggling,receives no response.

Written by Ananya Banerjee | Published: March 6, 2013 12:07 am

FDA seeks WR,CR cooperation to check smuggling,receives no response.

Around 90 per cent of gutkha and paan masala seized by Food and Drug Administration (FDA) since July last year was brought to Mumbai from other states via railway,officials said.

Most of the seizure was made at CST,Mumbai Central,Bandra and Kurla stations.

To prevent such smuggling in future,FDA has written to Central Railway (CR) and Western Railway (WR),but has received no response,the officials said.

“What we observed in the 81 raids we conducted is that 90 per cent of the gutkha and paan masala seized was brought on trains. It is important to keep strict vigil on railway routes being used to smuggle these banned substances,” said Suresh Deshmukh,joint commissioner (food),FDA.

The ban on gutkha and paan masala in the state became effective in July last year. Since then,FDA has conducted 81 raids and seized tobacco products worth over Rs 3.33 crore.

“We have written letters to central and western railway authorities to keep strict watch and give instructions to the effect to people in charge of handling parcels. We have requested cooperation in this matter as it concerns public health. Unfortunately,there has been no compliance or response. They have not even acknowledged our letters,” said Deshmukh.

The most recent letter was sent to railway authorities in January this year. Senior railway officials said they were making efforts,but it was not possible to check each and every consignment.

FDA has also asked rail authorities to initiate probes against officials not implementing regulations and conducting proper checks.

Spokesperson for WR Sarat Chandrayan said while he was not aware of any letter,they had been instructed by FDA to keep a watch on gutkha or paan masala consignments.

“We have instructed our staff to keep vigil on parcels coming from other states. However,it is practically impossible to check each of the close to 1,000 million tonnes of luggage we handle every year,” he said,adding,“There needs to be increased intelligence to ensure these products do not enter the state.”

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