Gutkha worth Rs 14 lakh seized, sent to generate electricity

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on Wednesday, disposed of gutkha worth Rs 14 lakh at the Pune Municipal Corporation's solid waste plant to generate electricity. As the FDA officials were transporting cartons weighing 3.26 tonnes, they discovered that four cartons were missing and filed a complaint at Khadak police station.

Prompt action led the food safety officials to nab two offenders and recover goods, which were later taken away to generate electricity.

Since the ban on gutkha kicked off three months ago, FDA officials in Pune district have seized gutkha worth Rs 1.47 crore. On Wednesday, officials disposed of gutkha worth Rs 14 lakh, while products worth Rs 28 lakh had been disposed of last month.

FDA officials have been conducting series of raids in the city since mid-July and other districts in the Pune division. However, due to gutkha manufacturers filing a series of petitions before the high court challenging the ban, the seized gutkha was kept in the FDA godowns as instructions were awaited on how to dispose it.

With the High Court accepting the FDA's contention that consumption of gutkha was unsafe and was the main cause of oral cancer, directives were given to destroy the seized material, Joint Commissioner, FDA Shashikant Kekare said.

Assistant Commissioner FDA Dilip Sangat said the FDA utilised the solid waste plant facility at Ramtekdi that is being run by Rochem Green Energy private limited on Build Operate and Transfer basis (B-O-T). PMC officials said they had handed over the land at Ramtekdi on B-O-T basis.

While the capacity of the plant will be to dispose of 700 tonnes of garbage, in the first phase around 250 tonnes garbage was collected and disposed of to generate electricity. The plant has been able to generate more than 10 MW of electricity so far and transmitted to the Maharashtra State Electricity Distribution Company Limited (MSEDCL).

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