M A I N   N E W S

Govt under fire over soft drinks
MPs demand ban on Pepsi, Coke
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, August 3
The government today came under sharp attack from the BJP-led Opposition, Left parties and it own allies for being lenient with PepsiCo and Coca Cola, the multinational companies found supplying soft drinks and water having pesticide contents.

The members demanded a complete ban on both companies saying these were playing with the health of millions of customers across the country while “slowly poisoning” them through pesticide-carrying soft drinks and water.

Dissatisfied with the response of Parliamentary Affairs Minister Priyaranjan Dasmunsi, members of the Opposition parties, the Samajwadi Party and the BSP walked out of the Lok Sabha.

“Parliament had passed a Bill providing for food standard and safety a few days ago. Once the legislation is given assent to by the President, the government will notify appropriate measures to deal with complaints regarding pesticide contents in water and soft drinks,” said Mr Dasmunsi when members demanded government response on the issue.

Alleging connivance of officials of the Health Ministry with the accused companies, JD (U) leader Prabunath Singh said, “ The House should set up another joint parliamentary committee (JPC) to inquire into the role played by the Health Minister and the Health Secretary in not notifying the safety standards.”

Union Health Minister Anbumani Ramadoss was not present in the House at that time, consequently Congress members had to face the ire of the members. Congress MP Rahul Gandhi was also sitting in the House.

Earlier, citing the latest study by the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE), Ramjilal Suman (SP) alleged that the safety standards regarding soft drinks had been finalised but were being blocked by the government because of opposition by the MNCs manufacturing these soft drinks.

Even the JPC report on the issue submitted three years ago had not been implemented, he said.

BJP deputy leader Vijay Kumar Malhotra said the Health Minister’s reaction to the CSE study was highly condemnable as the minister said there was no need for an inquiry.

The CSE study has found pesticides in 57 samples of 11 soft drinks from 25 different manufacturing plants of Coca Cola and PepsiCo. The pesticide contents were 24 times higher than the BIS norms.

In all, an average of three to five different pesticides were found in all samples, which also included Heptachlor, a pesticide banned in India.





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