Minister for Forest, Ecology and Environment B. Ramanath Rai, who is also in-charge of Dakshina Kannada, said the decision of the State government to ban gutka is unlikely to affect areca growers in the district.
Talking to reporters here on Saturday, Mr. Rai said the State government had to ban Gutka as per the directive of the Supreme Court. A similar ban has been imposed in 22 States. Mr. Rai said the decision would in no way affect arecanut growers in the district.
Puttur MLA T. Shakunatala Shetty said she did speak about the likely impact of ban on areca growers in the Congress Legislative Party meeting on Friday. “I am also an arecanut grower. I had apprehensions.” Ms. Shetty said Chief Minister Siddaramaiah convinced her that there would not be any adverse affect of ban on growers. “The arecanut grown here is the white (chali) variety which is not used in gutka,” she said.
Ms. Shetty said the State government had to go ahead with the ban as there was hardly few days for the government to submit compliance report before the Supreme Court. “Any delay would have led to contempt of court proceedings,” she said. Ms. Shetty blamed the BJP government for not discussing the issue with areca growers, she said.
Karantaka Pradesh Congress Committee Secretary Ivan D’souza said Mr. Siddaramaiah and Ministers Ramanth Rai, Vinaya Kumar Sorake, K. Abhyachandra Jain and U.T. Khader would soon talk to the areca growers and work out solutions for their problems. Mr. D’souza also said that an Arecanut Board similar to the Coffee Board would soon be set up to cater to the needs of the arecanut growers.