Realising that the ban on gutkha doesn’t amount to a bucket of spit if the product is clandestinely brought in from neighbouring areas, authorities are now gearing up to seal the city’s porous borders. Since the ongoing festive season — that lasts till the end of the year — is a convenient excuse for addicts to give in to the lure, Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has decided to seek help of Mumbai city and suburban collectors to restrict illegal entry of gutkha packets.
According to a senior FDA official, a meeting was held between the city collector and high-ranking FDA representatives last week, where the latter demanded a strict vigil at all octroi nakas with the help of BMC. Not only this, FDA has also sought assistance of the police department, which has personnel in every nook, and corner of the state.
“We need cooperation from these agencies as though gutkha is banned in the state, it manages to enter the market through unscrupulous ways,” said a senior FDA official.
When contacted, FDA joint commissioner Suresh Deshmukh confirmed that such a meeting was organised. “We have sought help from the city collector, who has decided to aid us. We will also have a discussion with the suburban collector,” he said.
Did you know?
After the ban on sale, manufacturing, consumption and stocking of gutkha and paan masala was introduced in July by the state government, FDA authorities have confiscated tobacco products worth Rs 10 crore in the last two months. This is one of the biggest such seizures in the country. In fact, of the 13 states that have banned gutkha, Maharashtra is the only one to have reported such a massive haul. FDA is now in the process of destroying the banned substances.