Ripening of fruits by using harmful chemical goes unchecked in J&K

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Though the use of harmful chemical ‘Calcium Carbide’ to ripe the fruits is banned, the practice continues unhindered in the wholesale fruit markets of the State and there is hardly any monitoring by the authorities to check this practice.
According to the sources, Calcium Carbide is being used by several persons dealing with wholesale business of fruits in various Mandis of the State. In Jammu, the use of this harmful chemical is also widespread in Narwal Fruit Mandi, which is one of the biggest wholesale fruit markets in the region.
Quoting some instances, sources said that more than 150 tonnes of the banana reaches this mandi daily from different parts of the country including Maharashtra, Karnataka and Gujarat and of this, 130 tonnes is sold every day, adding as natural ripening of banana takes time, the traders use Calcium Carbide to subvert the period of natural ripening in order to meet the demand on time”.
Notwithstanding the fact that ripened artificially with Calcium Carbide, the fruits including banana, papaya and guava put the people at the risk of headache, dizziness, sleep disorders and even memory loss, the authorities of the Horticulture Planning and Marketing Department, who are custodian of Narwal Mandi, are sleeping over this issue.
It is pertinent to mention here that, fruits ripened with Calcium Carbide are overly softly but are inferior in taste and flavour. They also have a shorter shelf life. The fruit ripened with Calcium Carbide may develop uniform attractive surface colour, but the tissue inside would not be ripe or may remain green or raw.
Calcium Carbide is a dangerous and corrosive chemical. Carbide ripened fruits on consumption cause several harmful effects to human health.
When contacted, Director, Horticulture Planning and Marketing, Rafiq Ahmed Hakim admitted the use of Calcium Carbide in the ripening of the fruits in Narwal Mandi and other markets in the Jammu and Kashmir. He said, “The process of installing the modern system to ripe the fruits is in pipeline”.
“Calcium Carbide is health hazardous and the Government is installing the heating system at Narwal in Jammu and Paripora in Kashmir to ripe the fruits so as to make these healthier not hazardous”, he maintained.
However, President, Fruit Mandi Association, Narwal expressed ignorance about use of Calcium Carbide and said, “generally the traders are using Ethyline, which is comparatively safer chemical”, adding “some of the traders doing business of guava are using chemical to ripe it”.

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