Health Minister gets it revoked after Secretary beats him to notification

The Uttarakhand government on Tuesday reversed its order banning the production, stocking, distribution, and selling of gutka, pan masala and other nicotine-containing items within hours of the notification.

The reversal order came after Chief Minister Vijay Bahuguna intervened, saying the decision for an effective ban would be taken at a Cabinet meeting later this week.

The ban, to be effective from October 16, 2012, had been notified by Principal Secretary Health and Food Security Commissioner Ranbir Singh.

Although Health Minister Surender Singh Negi had been saying that a ban on gutka and pan masala would be enforced after the Tehri Lok Sabha by-poll, he is said to have been taken aback by Dr. Singh beating him to the notification. The Minister is said to have urged the Chief Minister to immediately reverse the notification, as such a decision could be taken only after a discussion in the State Cabinet.

According to the notification by Dr. Singh, the State government had banned the items, for the next one year, under the Food Security and Standards Act 2006. It warned that legal action would be taken against anyone found breaching the Act.

Dr. Singh, in a statement, had said that all the officers concerned in the State had been directed to ensure strict implementation of the Act and instructed to inform the designated officers or Food Security Officers regarding violations.

Meanwhile, gutka and pan masala stockists here said that although they were against the ban, they should be given time to clear the stockpile or else the government should buy their stuff at market rates.