Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Bhubaneswar, Apr 18:
Concerned over the use of calcium carbide to ripen fruits despite a nationwide ban on such use, the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), in response to a petition from an Odisha-based rights activist Akhand,has sought an action taken report (ATR) from the country’s Health and Family Welfare ministry.
The NHRC on Wednesday ordered the secretary of Union Health and Family welfare ministry to file a report on the issue within eight weeks.
Akhand in his petition to the NHRC had alleged that traders in the country continue to use calcium carbide to ripen fruit such as mangoes, bananas, oranges and watermelon, despite the Centre banning its use.
He said the use of calcium carbide is strictly banned in India as per PoFA (Prevention of Food Adulteration) Act [Section 44AA], because it contains traces of arsenic and phosphorus, which pose a serious threat to human health.
Acetylene gas, a by-product of calcium carbide, creates heat which is mainly used as a fuel for welding torches, and contains toxic impurities that affect the nervous system.
Alleging that the government was doing precious little to curb the use of calcium carbide to ripen fruits, Akhand said spreading awareness about this among the masses was necessary.
He emphasized also on the need to spread awareness among traders about the harmless ethylene gas that could be used for ripening fruits instead of calcium carbide.
The rules are not being enforced with utmost strictness by the government officials on the use of calcium carbide thus endangering human life and creating health hazards, said Akhand in his petition.