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Doon activist urges PM to ban plastic toys given with fast food

Activist Ajay Kumar had written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi in November, urging him to ban plastic toys that are given as freebies with packaged snack items.

dehradun Updated: Jan 12, 2018 21:11 IST
Neha Pant
Neha Pant
Hindustan Times
Uttarakhand,Ajay Kumar,Narendra Modi
Activist Ajay Kumar says several companies selling children’s food items are providing plastic, rubber or spring toys to “allure” them.(AFP File Photo)

DEHRADUN: The Hazardous Substances Management Division has written to two Union ministries and an autonomous body in response to a petition seeking ban on toys given away with fast foods for the safety of children.

Activist Ajay Kumar had written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi in November, urging him to ban plastic toys that are given as freebies with packaged snack items. Kumar took the action after learning about the incident where a 4-year-old boy died after swallowing a toy that came along with a packet of potato chips in Andhra Pradesh’s Eluru town. In October, another 4-year-old had choked to death in Kandivali area of Mumbai.

Subsequently, the Prime Minister’s Office directed the representation-cum-public grievance to the Hazardous Substances Management Division which is under the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC), for pursuing the matter.

The division has written to the joint secretaries of ministry of health and family welfare and department of commerce (under the ministry of commerce and industry) as well as to the director of the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) “for initiating action as appropriate”. The January 4 letter, a copy of which is with HT, is signed by Amardeep Raju, a scientist at the division.

Kumar, who is based in Dudhli village on Dehradun’s outskirts, said several companies selling children’s food items were providing plastic, rubber or spring toys to “allure” them. “Children are unable to differentiate between edible things and toys, leading to such tragedies. I hope after the PMO’s intervention, action is taken by the authorities to prevent such incidents from recurring,” Kumar, who has raised other important issues in the past as well, said.

Sharda Tripathi, a member of Uttarakhand state commission for protection of child rights, recommended an immediate ban on such items. “Children get attracted to such toys after watching TV ads. Precious lives are being put at risk by such toys every day. Action should be taken immediately on this front.”

First Published: Jan 12, 2018 21:11 IST