Chemicals, poor quality material in Chardham prasad, says NGOdehradun Updated: Aug 09, 2017 20:40 IST
The NGO sampled 1,143 food items in the May-June period, and found 983 samples adulterated.(HT File)
Pilgrims will be in for a shock to learn that the ‘prasad’ offered by them at the Chardham shrines did not only have chemicals but was also made of poor quality ingredients.
Society of Pollution & Environmental Conservation Scientists (SPECS) , a non-government organisation, has found after a study that cardamom offered to deities in all the four shrines of Gangotri, Yamunotri, Badrinath and Kedarnath, contained chemicals. In addition, the NGO claimed, ghee, coconut, cashew and raisins were of poor quality.
The NGO sampled 1,143 food items in the May-June period, and found 983 samples adulterated. What’s worse salt used for preparing food didn’t contain iodine, said an NGO official.
The findings found an overall adulteration of 86% of the total samples collected for tests. Eighty-one percent of salt samples did not have iodine. Mustard oil and vermillion were found adulterated. Some common items used to cook noodles such as chilli sauce, tomato sauce and vinegar were found unfit for consumption.
“Not only food, even prasad offered to the deities is of poor quality. Consumption of the food served to the people on yatra could mean a serious threat to life. Salt, an important ingredient was, found without iodine...which is dangerous,” SPECS secretary Brijmohan Sharma said at a conference after releasing the findings on Wednesday.
In the first 10 days, 2.21 lakh pilgrims paid obeisance at Badrinath and Kedarnath. Some 15 lakh pilgrims visited the four shrines within two months after the pilgrimage season began on April 27.
Food Safety and Standards Authority (FSSA) additional commissioner Pankaj Pandey rejected the findings of the NGO. “If the findings are genuine, then why don’t they share statistics with the government? We don’t claim that there is no adulteration along the route, but the report is exaggerated,” he told Hindustan Times.
Secretary, tourism, R Meenakshi Sundaram came out in support of Pandey. “I can’t say whether the report is correct or not, but it brings a bad name to the state. If the NGO is so concerned of adulteration, then why doesn’t it reach out to the authority?”
Sharma was clueless whether the report was to be shared with FSSA officials. He told Hindustan Times that the previous reports were submitted to former chief minister Harish Rawat, who forwarded the findings to the department concerned. “It’s difficult to meet secretaries and, therefore, we forward our reports to the chief minister.