The Maharashtra state government has imposed a ban on the manufacture, sale and storage of gutka. This decision will cost the state Rs 100 cr every year. The Maharashtra finance minister and deputy CM Ajit Pawar indicated that the state has considered all the legal aspects into account to ensure that there are no loopholes and its decision can’t be challenged in the courts. “Our chief concern is to safeguard people’s health. Financial loss is secondary and will be taken care of through other measures in the budget. Youngsters cannot be allowed to become victims of cancer by getting addicted to gutka,” he said.
The minister added that the state had always advocated this ban and the awareness campaign was undertaken after several attempts by NGOs and the government failed to dissuade the state’s youth from consuming gutka. A senior minister said, the decision was taken under the Food Safety and Standards (Prohibition and Restrictions on sales) Regulation act.
Several NGOs and health organisations have been pressurising the state to take harsh steps to ban the sale. Earlier, the government’s decision to ban its sale near schools and educational institutions failed to bring the desired results.
The cabinet’s decision failed last time because it was challenged in the court. The Maharashtra government, however, had been pursuing the ban with the union ministry of health, urging the centre to impose the blanket ban which would also help states across the country. The Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare advised the state to use its jurisdiction to ban gutka and then initiated steps accordingly.
The state government had earlier sought reports from other states that had effectively enacted a ban on gutka, like Madhya Pradesh and Kerala.