FDA building reeks of gutkha
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Walk into the Food and Drugs Administration (FDA) building in Guruwar Peth and one can't help but notice a pungent odour. The cause: Heaps of gutkha and tobacco stored in the building, in the absence of a godown. Offices of the joint commissioner and deputy commissioners all have heaps of gutkha consignments seized by FDA in the recent past.
"At present, there are nearly 16 tonnes of gutkha and tobacco in the building. We recently burnt around 10 tonnes of confiscated gutkha. The current consignment will also be burnt soon," said FDA joint commissioner Shashikant Kekare.
Since the ban on gutkha and tobacco products came into effect last year, FDA has been confiscating gutkha after raids in and around Pune district. "There is no separate godown for keeping the confiscated products. We will write to the authorities soon to provide us with a godown," said Kekare. "Earlier we had kept the confiscated material in the garage which has been provided to keep our office vehicles. All of us were parking outside, which caused inconvenience. That consignment was burnt and the garage again used for parking. After that, we started keeping the seized material in office," said an official who did not wish to be named, adding that employees were "accustomed to the stench of gutkha."
The lack of a godown is not the only problem faced by FDA. "After the Food Safety and Standards Act got passed in 2011, all licensing and registration of food products has been done from here instead of the Pune Municipal Corporation. Thus, a lot of people visit the office and work has increased manifold. The office is in a rented building and crammed," said Kekare. "We had looked at some new buildings but it didn't work out. Building and Construction Department allots only up to Rs 90,000 for a new building whereas in Pune the property prices are so high that you cannot get a place below Rs 2 lakh," said Kekare.
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