Paan masala and gutkha addicts may soon have to mend their ways. Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan has approved the Food & Drug Administration’s (FDA) proposal to ban gutkha and paan masala in the state.
Sources in the government said that it is now just a matter of time before the state cabinet also gives its stamp of approval for the ban.
Unlike many other proposals that languish in red tape and take months or years to make it past the bureaucracy, the ones moved for the ban on gutkha and paan masala practically flew through departments before landing up in the topmost chamber of the state cabinet, thanks to Deputy CM’s insistent proclamations in support of the prohibition. The entire process took only 23 days.
It is believed that after Ajit Pawar on June 10 announced his keenness to have the addictive substance banished from his kingdom, the proposal was moved on June 14 for evaluation by the Law and Judiciary department and the Finance department. It was forwarded to the state chief secretary on June 26, but had to be withdrawn for some technical specifications on June 28.
It was then resubmitted to Law and Judiciary department on June 29, and after being approved, it was sent back to the chief secretary the same day.
On July 3 and 4, FDA Minister Manohar Naik and Minister of State Satej Patil signed the proposal and on July 4, Deputy CM Ajit Pawar gave it the green signal.
Chavan approved the proposal on July 7, and the final approval will now be sought from the state cabinet. This however, is mere formality, as the leaders of the cabinet — Chavan and Pawar — have already backed the ban.
Even as states like Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Kerala have banned the substance, Maharashtra would be the first state to add paan masala to the list of prohibited substances. While gutkha is getting a thumb’s down from the state owing to its nicotine content, paan masala contains magnesium carbonate, a banned substance, the usage of which is only permissible in powders of garlic, onion and fruit, as well as in soup.
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