Deccan Chronicle

Hyderabad: Illegal chemicals to ripen bananas

Deccan Chronicle| Kamalapathi Rao H

Published on: February 11, 2016 | Updated on: February 12, 2016

Five nabbed for spraying calcium carbide.

Artificial ripening of bananas in a city godown.

Artificial ripening of bananas in a city godown.

Hyderabad: The south zone task force police apprehended five persons on Wednesday night from the old city for using banned chemicals for ripening bananas.

On Monday the Cyberabad special operations team and the Kukatpally police raided illegal banana ripening centres and arrested two persons throwing light on the business of using harmful substances to ripen fruits.

Banana wholesalers at fruit markets and battis, the traditional ripening centres, use calcium carbide in liquid form and the banned ethephon. The use of calcium carbide results in the release of poisonous chemicals like arsine, phosphine and actylene gas.

Sources said some wholesalers at Gaddiannaram and a bhatti near the HC and smaller centres elsewhere were using Tagron-39, which contains banned chemicals to ripen bananas.

The Centre banned the use of calcium carbide and other chemicals to ripen fruits way back in 1964. The HC is hearing a case against the use of harmful ripening agents and has issued a series of directions.

The TS government has drawn up a list of measures it intends to take to prevent the use of harmful ripening agents.

But personnel from the GHMC and food safety officials are ignoring the use of banned ripeners. As of now only the police is acting against these illegal practices.

Last year, the Gaddiannaram police booked cases against some persons who were using calcium carbide to ripen mangoes.

Experts said the use of calcium carbide, ethephon and acethylene would affect health in due course. "It harms children, pregnant women and the elderly," an expert said.

Law bans all artificial chemical fruit ripeners
The Prevention of Food Adulteration Rule (1955) strictly prohibits the use of chemicals like calcium carbide, ethephon and oxytocin.

Rule 44-AA of the Act says, "No person shall sell or offer or expose for sale or have in his premises for the purpose of sale under any description, fruits which have been artificially ripened by the use of acethylene gas commonly known as carbide gas and ethepone."

Meanwhile, the rules 48-E and sub-rule 24 of rule 42 are also insist that chemicals must not be used for ripening fruits.

The Food Safety and Standards of India (FSSAI) has described ethephon as a pesticide and it is not recommended as a ripener.

Oxytocin is a mammalian hormone, used as a drug in veterinary medicine. It should not be used for ripening fruits and vegetables.

Vendors who adopt illegal ways of ripening of fruits, can be booked under IPC Sections 272, 273 (food adulteration) and 420 (cheating). These are all non-bailable sections.

Chemical ripeners seized
The south zone task force police has seized 103 bottles of the chemical Ruspon and seven bottles of EP-50. Task force additional DCP N. Koti Reddy told the media that raids were conducted at various places.

"We have seized 1,750 bunches of bananas from the arrested persons. These chemicals are banned by the Prevention of Food Adulteration Act and Rules," he said.

The arrested Syed Hussain, 45, from Talab Katta, Moham-mad Haji, 42, from Aman Nagar, Syed Moin, 71, from Bhavani Nagar, Mohammad Ahmed, 66, from Musthafa Nagar and Shaik Mujju, 24, from Kalapatther were handed over to officials of the GHMC for further procedures and legal action.

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