Gujarat is the only state in India to exempt 100% export-oriented units from an otherwise blanket ban on gutkha in spite of there being only one such unit in the state, which is located at Dashrath in Vadodara district. The lone unit is part of the RMD gutkha brand under the Manikchand group chaired by controversial Pune-based businessman Rasiklal Manikchand Dhariwal.
In the past, Dhariwal has been investigated by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), sentenced to a years imprisonment by a Pune court and is suspected to have links with the underworld.
Chief Minister Narendra Modi had announced the gutkha ban on Independence Day and the state government subsequently notified a one-year gutkha ban on August 28. The notification prohibited the manufacture, storage, distribution and sale of gutkha or pan masala containing tobacco or nicotine for one year starting September 11.
But the last sentence in the notification reads: However, the said prohibition shall not be applicable in respect of 100% export oriented units, evoking criticism from those who had lobbied for a ban on smokeless tobacco products at both the state and national levels.
Health Minister and government spokesperson Jaynarayan Vyas said, (The exemption) is because 100% export-oriented units are governed under special dispensations and a set of laws not within the purview of the state government.
Food safety officials said they have inspected the unit at least three times after the ban came into effect and an examination of invoices and other documents showed there was no leakage of products into the local market.
Gutkha worth Rs 48 lakh seized in Rajkot
RAJKOT: The Rajkot police on Thursday seized a huge consignment of gutkha from a transport godown located on the outskirts of the city. Preliminary investigation revealed that the seizure could be worth Rs 48 lakh. Crime branch officials said they raided the godown following a tip-off. Further investigation was on, they added.