Traders play with people’s lives in India’s Punjab, sell vegetables laced with chemical dye that causes cancer.
Ludhiana has been, for decades, known as an industrial hub in Punjab. Now, along with its multi-million hosiery and sportswear industry, the city is fast becoming a center for a lot of illegal businesses as well. Topping the list of them is the business of food adulteration which is going on in broad daylight. A video by IndiaUnehard community correspondent Jai Kumar exposes this trade which is putting at risk thousands of lives in the city.
In markets across the city, traders are selling vegetables thickly covered with hazardous synthetic dyes. Jai has personally suffered from consuming such health hazards. A few weeks ago, Jai had been bought Okra/Ladies Finger from the market in Gurubagh colony. Once he ate that, Jai and his family members had stomach ache, diarrhea and weakness. Those Okras were polished with dark green colour which he suspects was Malachite Green – a chemical that is used to dye fabric and if consumed, can cause multiple ailments including cancer.
Food adulteration and use of dreaded drugs or banned substances in food/agricultural products is a major health issue in India, though the country has a very clear law against food adulteration of any kind. Under the law – Prevention of Food Adulteration Act, 1954 and Rules, 1955 – people found guilty of adulteration/tampering will face fines, as well as imprisonment of 6 months to 3 years’
Implementing the law is the responsibility of the state or union territories.
The traders in Ludhiana put the blame on their counterparts in New Delhi – the city that they buy their vegetables from. ‘It’s them who dye the vegetables, not us. We sell whatever we are sent’- say local traders, trying to save themselves.
However, implementing Prevention of Food Adulteration Act is the responsibility of the state or union territories.
This means, even if the Okra or pointed gourd that sell in Ludhiana were tampered with in Delhi, local government can still take action against the retailers who brought them there and distributed among local vendors. Because in this case, the crime is happening in Ludhiana and locals are affected by it.
Jai says that despite the law if traders are continuing to sell the chemical-laden vegetables, it is because they know the administration isn’t serious about enforcing the law. This has emboldened the traders, feels Jai, who has also received threats from some of the traders while shooting the video.
But his personal experience with the dyed vegetables made Jai realize how vulnerable people of his community were – most of who are uneducated and too poor to travel far and buy vegetables from big retail outlets. So despite the threat he went ahead and finished the video, so the issue no longer goes unnoticed.
You can watch this video on IndiaUnheard site by clicking here.