Bombay High Court (HC) pulled up the state government Thursday for not acting against milk adulteration. It said the government should lay down norms for testing milk.
“This is a serious problem concerning health. More so, with kids. How many kids must have consumed this milk? For how long? And how many are still continuing to consume it?” justice A M Khanwilkar said.
HC was hearing a PIL by S M Joshi Memorial Association Trust, which claimed, based on newspaper reports and tests by public analysts in Pune and Satara, samples of synthetic milk siezed by police contained sorbitol, detergent, sodium lauryl ethyl sulphate, caustic soda and formalin that can cause various ailments, including cancer.
In the PIL filed through lawyers Manmohan and Rajmohan Amonkar, the trust claimed in 2009, after Pune Police Crime Branch was tipped off, a synthetic milk racket was busted and samples tested. Tests revealed the samples contained harmful components.
The PIL claimed formalin was mutagenic and its ingestion could be fatal. Sodium lauryl ethyl is a detergent, the consumption of which can lead to breast and ovarian cancer in women and irreversible eye damage in children, it said.
Trust counsel Jane Cox said there was no testing mechanism for these substances in any of the dairies in the state. She said testing of milk samples should be done at the dairy level, not after seizure by government authorities.
The assistant government pleader said he needed to seek instructions on testing mechanism in dairies.
“How can you strengthen your department? You should have done it on your own. This (seizure of milk samples) was in 2009 and we are in 2013,” justice Khanwilkar said. The PIL said in August 2009, around 5,220 litres of synthetic milk was impounded by the state government in Beed, Ahmednagar, Baramati and Karjat.
After a racket was busted in Satara, 22 people connected with dairies and distribution centres were chargesheeted. However, police did not reveal their names despite protests and demonstrations outside the office of the Satara district collector. The trust claimed the names were not revealed as the racket involved politicians and influential persons and urged HC to direct the government to reveal the names.
The matter will be heard again next week.
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