Patna: The Bihar govt banned with immediate effect sale, storage, distribution and consumpition of 12 brands of pan masalas. Last year, gutkhas were banned and in 2016, total prohibition was imposed. The health department’ food safety commissioner and principal secretary, Sanjay Kumar, issued a notification imposing a comprehensive ban on pan masalas following confirmation of the presence of the harmful chemical ingredient magnesium carbonate presence. Sanjay Kumar said presence of magnesium carbonate causes heart attack and hypermagnesemia. The presence of the harmful chemical ingredient was found after two months of laboratory tests conducted since June at the State Chemicals Laboratory in Patna. The sale of pan masalas and its consumption crosses Rs200 crore monthly in Bihar. In Patna alone, the pan masala business is estimated at Rs3 crore.
A pan vendor of Kankarbagh Colony, Asia’s one of the largest colonies and second largest based on population, Mithilesh Kumar, claimed he sells pan masalas worth Rs500 daily. Cancer specialist Dr VP Singh said there is a craze of pan masalas among the women in particular, even though its consumption causes cancer. The banned brands of pan masalas include Rajnigandha, Raj Niwas, Pan Parag, Supremo, Pan Parag, Bahar, Bahubali, Rajshree, Raunak, Signature, Kamla Pasand, Pan Pasand and Madhu.
Chief secretary Deepak Kumar said, “The state government will launch a social awareness campaign against the consumption of pan masalas and its harmful effects. Strict instructions have been sent to the district magistrates and SPs to enforce the ban under the Food Safety Act and raid godowns and warehouses.”