The UP government is all set to ban the sale of gutkha from April 1.
The government had issued a notification on October 4, 2012 after the Allahabad high court, while hearing a public interest litigation (PIL) moved by Indian Dental Association, had sought its stand on the central government directive prohibiting sale and distribution of gutkha and other food products containing tobacco as an ingredient.
Though as many as 20 states and four union territories have already banned the sale of gutkha in their areas, Uttar Pradesh took it own time to ban the same.
Principal secretary, food and drug administration, Pravir Kumar said on Friday, that in view of the notification, FDA officers had been asked to take the help of the district administration in ensuring the ban.
However, he said that since the issue was also pending before the Supreme Court, the government would take further decision after the verdict. The officers of the FDA, commercial taxes and health departments also held a meeting here on Thursday to finalize the action plan on stopping the sale.
While issuing the ban order in October 2012, the government said it had given six months' time so that “lakhs of employees and labourers engaged in the long existing industry could find out alternative employment.”
The manufacturing and sale of gutkha is the major source of revenue for both the state’s commercial tax department and the Central excise department. While UP earned more than Rs. 300 crore revenue from the sale of gutkha in 2011-12, the Central excise earned Rs. 318 crore excise duty from manufacturing of gutkha in the Lucknow zone alone. According to an estimate, in Lucknow alone, at least one lakh people were earning their bread and butter from manufacturing and sale of gutkha.
“The volume of the gutkha business in UP can be fathomed from the fact that of the total Rs. 968 crore revenue that we got from non-petroleum products in the form of excise duty in 2011-12, nearly one-third — Rs. 318 crore — came from gutkha in the Lucknow zone alone,” said a central excise department official.
“If the ban is implemented, it would be a great victory for the UP branch of Indian Dental Association, which has long been campaigning on the issue,” said Dr Anil Kumar Mehrotra, a cancer specialist.