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Warning sign on beedi packet may go

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Staff Reporter

NELLORE: In what seems to be a major relief to lakhs of beedi workers across the country, the statutory warning sign comprising a picture of skull, two crossed bones and a body on beedi packet wrappers is unlikely to be made mandatory from February.

"United Progressive Alliance (UPA) Chairperson Sonia Gandhi has personally assured me that the Centre will do the needful to put an end to the growing resentment against the health warning. If possible, the Centre will also amend the Act concerned, which was passed in 2003, to make only printing a warning as on cigarette packets be made mandatory," Chief Minister Y S Rajasekhara Reddy said.

"This means, the statutory pictorial warning sign will not be carried on beedi packet wrappers. Moreover, the warning size will be reduced from current 50 per cent to 20 per cent of wrapper area," the Chief Minister told reporters here on Saturday before laying the foundation stone for mega textile parks.

Asked about Union Minister for Health and Family Welfare Anbumani Ramadoss's reported reaction that politicians were not concerned about millions of smokers of the country and raising petty issue just before election, the Chief Minister claimed that Mr. Ramadoss was misquoted by a section of the media. "He has in fact assured the delegation that met him recently that he would discuss the issue to ascertain whether any relief could be provided to beedi industry."

Referring to the Justice Rajinder Sachar Committee report on social, economic and educational status of the Muslim community in the country, the Chief Minister said that the Government would fulfil all its promises to uplift the Muslim minorities.

"Our stand is vindicated that the Muslim community has been lagging behind in most development indicators," he said.

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