Last Saturday, the Telangana High Court criticized the state government, pointing out that it has not been able to meet the minimum standards of food safety, even failing to curb the use of calcium carbide among fruit traders, which is used to artificially ripen fruits like mangoes.
A division bench, comprising Chief Justice Raghavendra Singh Chauhan and Justice A Abhishek Reddy, was dealing with a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) on the use of carbide to artificially ripen fruits.
While hearing the case, the bench pulled up the Telangana government and pointed out that it had a paltry 25 Food Safety Officers (FSOs) for the entire state with a population of nearly four crore people, which only reflected that the latter was not serious about the issue.
The court gave the example of Tamil Nadu, which created and filled 554 posts of FSOs to check for adulteration, and said that the Telangana government had not shown any interest in creating the posts.
Calcium Carbide is a corrosive chemical used to make fertilisers and is known to have carcinogenic properties. Artificial ripening of mangoes with the help of Calcium Carbide is a huge issue in Telangana. Farmers tend to pluck mangoes early as they need to be transported to the market. In the market, mango traders ripen them artificially to clear their stocks sooner.
In 2015, the Hyderabad High Court had ordered a thorough probe on the issue and said that those who indulged in the practice were “worse than terrorists,” as they were “killing generations of people with slow poison, for earning some extra rupees.” Despite this, it is still widely used to ripen mangoes quickly.