Health Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad has written a letter to Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah stating that the Centre had “..no intention to ban production/cultivation of areca nut and its customary usage, per se”.

In his letter dated January 13 to the Chief Minister, a copy of which was released in New Delhi, Mr. Azad referred to the submissions made by the Additional Solicitor General in the Supreme Court in the matter of Ankur Gutkha vs Indian Asthma Care Society and Others, and said: “While taking a note of your concern in the matter, may I bring to your kind attention that the submissions referred to were based on a strict scientific evidence of the injurious impact of the regular use of gutkha, tobacco, pan masala and similar articles on the human health”.

Mr. Azad said he could not state further on the subject as it was pending before the Supreme Court. “However, let me allay your fears by saying that our attempt will be to seek a practical solution to the issue and there is at present no intention to ban production/cultivation of areca nut and its customary usage, per se”.

The Karnataka government, various political parties of the State and the arecanut growers and producers have been asking the Centre to reverse its stand on the product as Karnataka topped the country in its production and any ban on this agricultural produce would severely hit the people.

Ban on arecanut is unjustified as they pointed out consumption of arecanut laced with tobacco is known to be injurious to health. It is wrong to brand arecanut as a substance that could result in a health hazard. The consumption of arecanut was part of Indian tradition. Arecanut is used as medicine in Ayurveda also, they have been claiming.