Tiruchirapalli

Illegal sale of pan masala and gutkha surfaces in Tiruchi

Illegal sale of pan masala and gutkha seems to have resurfaced in different parts of the city.

As per the State government order that came into effect in 2013, sale or possession of pan masala and gutkha is a punishable offence and no one should stock the substance.

The police conducted a raid in January and seized 700 kg of gutkha and other banned chewable tobacco products from a godown and a person was arrested for stocking it at Palpannai. The Tiruchi Corporation and the Food Safety and Drug Administration Department conducted a few raids recently to detect sale and possession of the banned items.

Yet, they are sold in select shops discreetly, regular customers say. Unlike in the past, no shop keeper displays packets containing the banned items. The sellers conceal the product and sell them only to known and regular customers. Unknown customers asking for the product are turned away.

Since the customers, who have been addicted to chew the gutkha items, were desperate to buy them, the petty shop owners cash on the demand and sell them at the price fixed by them. Lack of enforcement mechanism and absence of sustained action are understood to be factors that have prompted the traders to sell them.

“We will not be able to get the banned items for a short period after a raid or arrest of sellers. In general, they are available in most of petty shops. Of course they are sold secretly,” says a customer, who bought a sachet of gutkha at a petty shop in Cantonment.

When contacted, R. Chithra, Designated Officer, Food Safety Department, said that there had been no let up in action against those illegal sellers. More than 350 cases were registered during the last two years in Tiruchi district. About 10 tonnes of gutkha and pan masala substance were seized in 2 years from different traders. Of this, seven tonnes of gutkha packets was destroyed a few months ago. This month alone, 700 kg of banned items were seized from various traders.

“The traders and petty shop owners follow innovative ideas to store and sell the chewable items. Raids will be intensified,” Dr. Chithra said.

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Printable version | Oct 25, 2020 11:23:23 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Tiruchirapalli/pan-masala/article32688379.ece

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