CUTTACK: Amid a strong crackdown by Commissionerate Police and Cuttack Municipal Corporation (CMC) on food adulteration units in the millennium city, unscrupulous traders are increasingly shifting their base to the outskirts, beyond the jurisdiction of the enforcement agencies.
Recently, several units involved in spurious food products manufacturing have been busted on the outskirts of Cuttack city, making it evident that traders are finding safe haven in interior pockets of the district to evade action.
On Friday, an adulterated sauce manufacturing unit was busted at Tailapada near Bentakar in 42 Mauza. Ten days back, a fake cement manufacturing factory operating clandestinely at Champati village in Salepur block was unearthed.
Similarly, a fake tobacco and pan masala-making unit was busted at Sasola village in Amana panchayat under Sadar block, located around 10 km from the city.
Sources said rural pockets of Tangi, Cuttack Sadar, Salepur, Mahanga and Nischintakoili blocks have become hubs for illegal manufacturing units where unscrupulous traders operate without obtaining a necessary licence and in violation of the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) Act. Taking advantage of lax enforcement at these locations, the traders carry out their illegal business with impunity.
Scores of adulterated snacks, bakeries, spices and sauce manufacturing units are running at various places in these blocks. While the food items are being prepared using expired products in an unhygienic setting, the packaged products have no label and no mention of manufacturing and expiry date. These traders market their adulterated food and other products through Malgodown, the biggest wholesale mandi of the State.
In December 2020, Collector Bhabani Shankar Chayani had constituted a committee comprising CMC officials, Cuttack DCP, Cuttack (Rural) SP, Health and Food Safety officers to carry out food safety enforcement activities across the district. Besides, 10 squads (six for rural and four for Cuttack city) involving Food and Civil Supplies officials were formed for the purpose.
Chayani had also instructed tehsildars to carry out food safety enforcement activities in their respective areas and even announced to install two dedicated telephone numbers to help consumers inform the administration about any food adulteration. However, the squads have not been activated and the proposed telephone numbers are yet to be made operational.
Contacted, Food Safety Officer Pratikshya Das Mohapatra said continuous crackdown is forcing the traders to leave the city. “We have received information that they are operating from the city outskirts and rural areas. We will soon go after them,” the officer added.