Tribune News Service
Amritsar, May 29
With the Health Department confirming the artificial ripening of fruits by using ethylene spray and calcium carbide by the fruit merchants, the incident has once again brought the focus on the demand of setting up a fruit ripening plant in Amritsar.
A team of the Health Department had conducted a surprise check at the old vegetable market near Hall Gate and fruit and vegetable market at Vallah five days ago. It left the traders panicked as most of them shut their shops. Ethylene spray was seized and several fruit samples were for further chemical examination by health officials.
A fruit vendor said there were not enough ripening chambers. “The government has not set up any ripening plant, so traders resort to the usage of chemicals. Such fruits are a health hazard,” he said.
Calcium carbide has been banned under the Food Safety and Standards Regulation as it is harmful for health. Its use for ripening of fruits is banned in states like Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra and Gujarat as it can cause cancer. Calcium carbide is used to generate low levels of ethylene gas that fasten the ripening of fruits like bananas, mangoes and papaya. Such fruits also cause stomach upset and disrupts intestinal function.
In 2010, the then Deputy Commissioner Kahan Singh Pannu had announced to establish a state-of-the-art fruit ripening and packaging plant for Rs 2 crore. The plant was to be established by the Punjab Mandi Board in collaboration with the Central Government. Five acres of land on Mehta road near fruit and vegetable market at Vallah was identified for the project, but it could not see the light of the day.
Deputy Commissioner Kamaldeep Singh Sangha said besides tightening the noose around the persons involved in the illegal act, there is also a need to persuade people not to indulge in this. “The district administration has started working in this direction. I will meet businessmen involved in the fruit trade soon and persuade them to desist from artificial ripening. We will also look into the possible solutions in this regard,” said Sangha.
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