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Saturday, August 29, 1998
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More states ban mustard oil
Dropsy toll mounts
Tribune News Service and agencies

NEW DELHI, Aug 28 — More states today banned the sale of mustard oil while others mounted intense oil-sample collection drives as the dreaded dropsy claimed three more lives in the national capital since last evening, taking the toll to 22. However, unofficial reports put the toll at 35.

A day after Bihar and West Bengal banned the sale of mustard oil, Uttar Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh, Orissa, Haryana and Assam joined them as the disease, which came to light in Delhi earlier this month, spread to several states.

A Health Ministry release said this evening that the Prevention of Food Adulteration Department staff had lifted 225 samples of mustard oil, of which 117 were tested and 51 of them were found to be positive.

Addressing a press conference in the evening, the Delhi Health Minister, Dr Harsh Vardhan said that apart from Kanodia, Haathi, Scooter and Parivaar brands, samples of Dhara, Jumbo and Kohinoor have also been found to be adulterated.

He said that scientists from the Indian Toxicological Research Institute, Lucknow have been called by the Delhi Government here tomorrow. It is capable of undertaking adulteration tests in 10 minutes.

Due to a ban on the sale of mustard oil in Delhi, the Delhi Government has urged the Centre to double supply of palmolein oil and also in poly packs, Dr Harsh Vardhan said.

Medical Superintendent of Ram Manohar Lohia hospital Dr C.P. Singh said that 54 persons, including adults and children were admitted in the hospital on Friday with symptoms of dropsy. He added that the number of fresh admissions had raised of number of dropsy patients in RML to 171.

The Medical Superintendent of Deen Dayal Upadhyay hospital, Dr R.M. Baishya said, that 65 persons with symptoms of dropsy came to the hospital on Friday. He said that 90 per cent of these patients are adults from Najafgarh, Dabri and Sagarpur. He said that none of these 65 patients had shown severe symptoms affecting vital organs.

Instances of the use of toxic mobil oil to adulterate mustard oil has come to light in the Begumpur area of North Delhi.

Dr Harsh Vardhan said "we have reports of the use of mobil oil to adulterate mustard oil in the North Delhi area."

The minister said that the department of Prevention of Food Adulteration yesterday collected samples from shops selling mustard oil to identify the exact nature of the contamination.

Till now it was found that only the argemone seeds were being used to adulterate mustard oil. By mixing mobil oil, density of mustard oil increases and hence its weight increases as well.

Crime branch officials investigating the case said that the use of mobil oil as an adulterant is not new. Explaining the process of adulteration, an official said that expeller-rod-extracted-mustard oil is less dense and if mobil oil was mixed in a proper ratio in it, then the two mix easily. But mobil oil cannot be mixed in the ‘kachi ghani or kolhu’ mustard oil, which is thick and it its purest form, as both oils react and coagulate.

With the arrest of the owner of Kamal Oils, Kamal Aggarwal, the police may have the answer to the causes of outbreak of dropsy in the Capital.

Investigations have revealed that laxity on part of the National Dairy Development Board (NDDB) NOIDA in examining refined mustard oil before buying it from traders and manufacturers appears to have led to the adulteration of Dhara vegetable oil.

In the third week of July and first week of August this year, the NDDB purchased three tankers of mustard oil from Kamal Oil Mills, Naya Bazar and Vikas Oil traders without checking it for any type of adulteration and contamination, crime branch officials said.

In July, when the DCM Oil refineries — buyers of expeller-rod-extracted mustard oil from Kamal Oils — closed its operations for some time due to mechanical problems — Kamal Aggarwal sold 10 tankers of mustard oil meant for DCM in the open market.

According to the police, Kamal used to buy the oil from three Haryana manufacturers, who still are to be nabbed for the alleged adulteration. The officials, however, said that the manufacturers may be arrested very soon.

Out of the 10, 10-tonne tankers, oil in three was adulterated, the police said. The three tankers were sold to Vikas Oils, Rampat Oil mills and Naresh (oil) traders. While Vikas Oil sells the oil in South West and North west Delhi under the brand names of Tiranga, Lakshmi and Vandev, Rampat Oil uses the Ekta brand name with sales outlets in Najafgarh. Naresh traders has monopoly in the trans-Yamuna area.

In the last week of July, when the consumers started complaining of nausea and weakness after consuming the brands sold by the three dealers, they withdrew the supply from the market on the advice of retailers.
The police says, while Kamal agreed to take back the supply from Rampat and Naresh Oils, he refused the same from Vikas Oils. In the meantime, while Kamal got in touch with the NDDB, Noida to sell the two tankers for the manufacture of Dhara, Vikas Oils contacted a middleman to dispose of the adulterated oil.

The middleman reportedly approached the NDDB which readily bought the third adulterated oil tanker. Thus the Dhara oil became contaminated and was subsequently banned by the Delhi Government.back

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