Mumbai: In yet another setback to Pankaja Munde, minister for women and child welfare department, the Foods and Drugs Administration (FDA) has taken the decision to suspend sugarcane crushing licence of Parli-based Vaidyanath Cooperative Sugar Mill for a period of ten days. The minister is the chairperson of the mill. It will remain suspended between April 11 to 20.
However, according to an official from FDA, the notice to suspend licence is just a formality as the crushing season is expected to be over by March-end. Dhananjay Munde, leader of opposition claimed, the government is let her off from stringent action.
FDA has held the administration of the mill responsible for the death of seven mill workers who died in December last year after boiling sugarcane juice stored in a tank fell on them. After this accident, FDA had inspected the sugar mill and directed the surveillance department for a thorough enquiry.
“The FDA had immediately issued a notice about lacunas in safety measures at the mill. The sugar mill administration sent a letter and assured that it had removed all the lacunas. However, as we know about it, we requested FDA to conduct a spot visit and hence it was probed by surveillance department of FDA this month,” an official from the office of Dhanajay Munde, leader of opposition (LoP) in state council, said.
Munde had demanded authorities register a First Information Report (FIR) against mill administration as well as chairman of the mill (Pankaja Munde) under culpable homicide section of Indian Penal Code.
“We have no faith in this government. As Pankaja is minister, the Bharatiya Janata Party government is backing her in case of death of seven mill workers,” said LoP Munde.
He added, “I have demanded the same rule be applied, which was applied in Kamala Mills fire incident. In Kamala Mills issue, police arrested owner of the mill and the pub and held them under culpable homicide section. Why is the government letting off Pankaja? Is it because she is a minister?” questioned Munde.
He further said, “Were the mill labourers who died in Parli not human beings? Is the government not taking it seriously only because they were poor and people who died at Kamla Mills were rich and hence, they have given another justice.” “We want action against sugar mill but do not want farmers to suffer and hence, suggested FDA suspend licence at the end of crushing season,” said an official from the office of LoP Munde.
Abhimanyu Kere, assistant commissioner of FDA confirmed the licence will be suspended. The minister was busy at a function in Aurangabad and did not respond. Meanwhile, the decision will affect the crushing of at least 40 metric tonnes of sugarcane between suspension period.
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