Parties accuse each other of claiming nut is carcinogenic

With political campaigning closing on Tuesday evening, both the Congress and the BJP district units sparred over the credit and the blame over the controversy surrounding the ban on areca in the country.

Addressing reporters, Sachin Meega, Vice President of the Kisan-Khet Mazdoor cell of the State Congress, said it was in 2001, during the time of the NDA government, that the Ratnam Committee report had submitted to the Supreme Court claiming that areca nut had carcinogenic elements.

“The 11-member committee had members who were in BJP. Rama Bhat was even a BJP MLA from here. It is this report that has started the talk in the Supreme Court about banning of areca nut. And yet, during these elections, it is the BJP that spreads misinformation that it was all the Congress’ doing,” he said.

He further claimed that it was Commerce Minister Anand Sharma’s decision to raise the import duty on areca nut to 110 per cent to discourage import. “Also, it was Congress ministers who took up the matter of illegal smuggling of areca nut from Bangladesh and Burma that led to better vigilance there. If the prices of areca nut have crossed Rs. 20,000 per quintal here, it was because of the Congress,” he said.

Claiming that the party has submitted their affidavit with the SC with documents dispelling the carcinogenic property of areca, Mr. Meega said: “The BJP had done nothing except protest and padayatra for political gain.”

BJP retorts

When asked in a press conference, former BJP Minister Nagaraj Shetty rubbished the claims of the Congress.

“We have gone to the Supreme Court with a petition against the ban of areca, complete with records and research papers. It was in fact the Cognress-led state Government here that submitted to the SC that areca was cancerous,” he claimed.

Similarly, he said it was during the tenure of former Union Minister of State Finance V. Dhananjay Kumar that the import duty on areca was raised.

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