In 2012, the then Home Minister Late R R Patil banned the sale and production of Pan Masala, Gutkha in the state and started tobacco products directive. However, teasing law enforcement, Gutkha and Pan Masala are being sold in the Mira-Bhayander area openly. In spite of repeated action from the Food and Drugs Administration(FDA), one can see many pan shops openly hanging and selling the pouches at a higher rate at their shops.
A well-oiled network behind the supply of banned tobacco products such as gutkha, scented supari and pan masala has exposed in the twin city.
Despite a blanket ban by the state on sale, manufacture, consumption, distribution and transportation of such products, the business thrives as always through the paan tapris found at every corner.
Gutkha reaches here from Gujarat through ‘setting’
Specifically, there is a great demand for gutkha in Mumbai, Thane, Navi-Mumbai and Mira-Bhayander. In this sense, the business of the gutkha deals with the advantages. Gutkha’s pouches sold at a higher rate than its MRP. According to the known sources, ‘setting’ is done in all the concerned departments while bringing these tobacco products from Gujarat to here.
Ironically, a seven police stations’ jurisdiction on the Mumbai Ahmedabad Highway falls between Kashimira Police Station and Gujarat border. Then also, Gutkha reaches Mira-Bhayander very easily. Really, this is teasing the tobacco products directive draft by Late R R Patil.
A senior police officer says huge consignments of gutkha come to the Mira Road-Bhayander area and are distributed through a complex and widespread network. Police have conducted over 25 raids in the Mira-Bhayandar area alone in the past few months, but the trade still thrives.
The administration is blindfolded for this menace?
Though officers from the state’s Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have periodically been conducting sprees of raids, they are only able to uncover a tip of the iceberg. Police amalgamated with ‘big businessmen’ to run the game. There is no effective action by the administration. “Senior official from the state should take action on it,” said the local.
A sting operation by the satellite Marathi news channel AM News showed the depth of this racket. Pan shopwala provides these tobacco products to underage or minors also.