MR. DEPUTY CHAIRMAN: Then what the Minister says and what you say are not important. (Interruptions)... It is for the Chair to regulate. You can talk only with permission. That is the rule. I need not remind you because you know that. When I have permitted the hon. Minister to make a statement, no Member has any right to interrupt. I may allow you here and there just for creating some interest. But that doesn't mean you can go on like this. Please don't do it. (Interruptions)... Let him complete. Whatever the Minister wants to say, let him complete. (Interruptions)...
SHRI N. JOTHI: Then you give me a chance after he completes.
MR. DEPUTY CHAIRMAN: I will.
DR. ANBUMANI RAMDOSS: As I mentioned on the health issues, the sugar content is more harmful from the long-term aspects than the pesticide residues in these things. I don't know how many people know this. This is the awareness which I am creating not only in the House but also in the entire country that we have a situation here, we have a problem here, and that problem is not only due to pesticides issue but also due to the wider health issue. The quantum of sugar in the so-called carbonated products, say, 5%-10%, is more dangerous than the pesticides contained in these carbonated drinks. I am trying to bring out the health problems and that is why we need to take a holistic view on this. The House needs to deliberate more on this issue. I am not shying away from responsibility. That is why I am coming to the point and saying that we need to have good agricultural practices, etc. There are other issues which are involved in this. (Interruptions)...
MR. DEPUTY CHAIRMAN: That will be taken up later. We can discuss it later. But let us come to the point.
DR. ANBUMANI RAMDOSS: Having said all these things, the Government has taken steps to deal with both the issues, one is a regulatory mechanism for the pesticides or contaminants issue and the second is the wider issue of health, not only of carbonated drinks but also junk foods because this is the way our children are going and every day their health is falling by eating these things.
Sir, coming to the issues raised by my hon. colleagues here, Mr. Narayanasamy has asked about the steps that the Government has taken on the JPC recommendations. As I have already said, after the JPC's recommendations, a Committee has been set up and the Committee will be setting the standards in due course of time, maybe, within 3-5 months.
MR. DEPUTY CHAIRMAN: Have you fixed any time-limit for that Committee?
DR. ANBUMANI RAMDOSS: It is there.
MR. DEPUTY CHAIRMAN: It is an important issue. Just to facilitate the hon. Members, the Report was made in 2003. Now, you have appointed a Committee. Have you fixed a time-limit for the Committee for fixing the standards? There is a concern in the whole country. What is the time-limit that you have fixed for the Committee? That you can say.
DR. ANBUMANI RAMDOSS: The JPC has told us to look into not only the carbonated drinks issue but also fruit juice, fruits and vegetables and milk, and to set standards for all these products. But as for fruit juice and milk, it is a little bit difficult in our Indian context because they are primary foods and we are using abundant pesticides in our country. Therefore, we have to go in for good agricultural practices. That is a different matter.
MR. DEPUTY CHAIRMAN: But three years is too long a time.
DR. ANBUMANI RAMDOSS: The JPC has made a lot of recommendations.
MR. DEPUTY CHAIRMAN: That is there. But you speak on this issue.
DR. ANBUMANI RAMDOSS: Coming to the issue, in 2004, the Committee has been formed. It is not a new Committee. It has been right there. I have read out the four names. This Committee is there. These experts are the top in the industry. They have gone through that. They are now finalising the Report. By the end of this year or early next year there will be standards fixed for these things.
MR. DEPUTY CHAIRMAN: Till then, what would happen?
DR. ANBUMANI RAMDOSS: That is why I explained clearly that till today there were no standards. Today, there are standards. There are standards for water, concentrates and sugar also. It is known that there should be no pesticides in sugar. Ultimately, the onus is on the manufacturers. (Interruptions)...
SHRI V. NARAYANSAMY: Sir, there is some crucial thing.
MR. DEPUTY CHAIRMAN: I will help you. Mr. Minister, you have made one statement that the onus is on the manufacturers. Now, the Centre for Science and Environment has come out with a report. They have failed. You say that the onus is on the manufacturers. Now what we see is that they have failed. Now, on whom is the onus?
(Followed by VK/3R)
DR. ANBUMANI RAMDOSS: Sir, coming to the CSE report, they have tested samples and they have given a report. Now, another Committee has been set up to give me a report in two week's time on the CSE's report. Sir, the CSE is a reputed organisation. But we do not know what testing they have done; what process of testing they have done whether it has been an NABL accredited laboratory under the law. It is the NABL accredited laboratories which have to go through these processes. There are a lot of processes. You know what are the conditions to test a product. It just can't be tested anywhere, in any lab. We have to have a standard fixed only then will it stand in a court of law. So I have appointed a Committee which will go into the CSE report and give me its recommendations in two week's time and after which we will send advisories and circulatories to States from where they have lifted samples. If the CSE report is positive today that there are pesticide residues, we will be advising the State Governments from where these samples have been lifted in different bottling plants, and saying that this is it and ask them to take action against the respective manufacturers in different States from where these samples have been lifted. We are not waiting only for that, we are also lifting samples from different parts of the country and we are testing them in our labs. In fact, the onus is on the State Governments to do it; under the PFA the State Government has to pick up samples, test them and do these things. Once we get these results, then only we could take a decision as to how under the PFA, we could punish these manufacturers.
MR. DEPUTY CHAIRMAN: How do you address the concern of the common man today?
DR. ANBUMANI RAMDOSS: Sir, just today, in a hurry...(Interruptions). MR. DEPUTY CHAIRMAN: The Chair itself is putting questions on your behalf.
DR. ANBUMANI RAMDOSS: Sir, I fully understand the concern of Members not only within the House but outside the House also. Sir, today, if we do anything in a haste, again and again, I am saying, if we just go around in a haste without getting these credentials and facts and figures, it would not stand in a court of law. Definitely, whatever we do, it has to be in a systemic manner. That is why we are going through this scientific process and analysing the whole thing. I am also concerned about it. The safety of the consumers is my priority. But we have to address these issues in a scientific manner because it has to stand the scrutiny of law. We have to go through that process. Whatever process we are going through, it should be a foolproof process. We can't act in haste.
Coming to Shri Narayanasamy's query about health hazards and whether there is any mechanism to check the colas. Yes, again and again, I have been saying that there have been different mechanisms to check not only colas but other fruit products also. The State Government has to repeatedly and periodically test these samples and give recommendations and feedback to the Central Government. Shri Narayanasamy was saying that don't set up committees which would just go on, on and on. It is not the prerogative of the Government to just set up these committee to delay this process. Whatever we do, it has to be scientific. We already have some instances where we took some decisions and then the courts have reversed our decisions. Because of the lack of scientific data, we had acted in a hurry, we acted in a haste. It is not that the Committees are set up to delay the process. There are expert people in these committees. They are the people who are experts in their fields. We have to get this data, accumulate this data and then we have to go through it. Again, it is the responsibility of the Government to expedite the whole process. I take this responsibility to expedite the whole process. We are going through this process. Sir, personally, before I became a Minister, I have been against these colas and junk food. Because of health reasons involved in it, I have been taking a lot of initiatives on these issues. Today, we have an opportunity to go through it. I am very seriously concerned about it from the consumer point of view. We are very serious about this issue. I had a number of briefings on this issue with my people in the last few months to expedite the whole process. We are going through that process.
(Contd. by 3S)
DR. ANBUMANI RAMDOSS (contd.): Sir, responding to Shri Jothi's point, he was concerned about Section 7 and wanted to know whether we can ban these items. Sir, as per Section 7 of the PFA Act, it rests with the health authorities of the respective States. In fact, there is a contradictory view in this that the ultimate responsibility is with the Central Government. But, as per this provision, it is the State local authorities which have to act on this issue. But, again, when Gutka was banned by some States, the Supreme Court said that it could be only for a short term, maybe, for two years, and the onus for a long-term ban rests with the Central Government. That is why we are going through this process. So, as a short-term measure, if the State Governments feel that this is detrimental to their people, to the consumers, they have the authority to take decisions under Section 7 of the Act...
MR. DEPUTY CHAIRMAN: For a maximum period of two years, is it?
DR. ANBUMANI RAMDOSS: It can be done for a short period of time...
SHRI N. JOTHI: Not only the State Governments, but the Central Government also can put a ban on it for a temporary period as a precautionary measure...
MR. DEPUTY CHAIRMAN: He said that.
SHRI N. JOTHI: I do not know why he is not exercising that power.
DR. ANBUMANI RAMDOSS: Each State Government can do that. We have sent advisories to the State Governments that these are health issues, what decisions they must take, etc.
Shri Suresh Bhardwaj mentioned about the concentrates. He wanted to know whether pesticides are found in the concentrates. I have already said that the formula used in the concentrates is the trademark of the respective companies, and this is being used worldwide. The onus is on these companies to prove that there are no pesticides in the concentrates. Of course, these companies must ensure that there are no pesticides or contaminates in the concentrates...(Interruptions) It is the whole thing that we are testing. It is not a question of sugar content or water content that we look for. We cannot test it individually. We have to test it holistically...(Interruptions)
SHRI V. NARAYANASAMY: You have to analyse separately its various constituents. You say that the water used should be a sterilised water. Secondly, you have also done sampling of the sugar content...
MR. DEPUTY CHAIRMAN: Are you giving standards for these concentrates?
DR. ANBUMANI RAMDOSS: No; we cannot give a standard...
MR. DEPUTY CHAIRMAN: That is the point. The popular perception is that these companies do not show the constituents in the concentrates, and these are not tested. But, from safety point of view, it has to be tested. That is what Mr. Narayanasamy is saying.
DR. ANBUMANI RAMDOSS: Today the concentrate standard is that there should be no pesticides in it.
SHRI V. NARAYANASAMY: How can you presume that?
DR. ANBUMANI RAMDOSS: That is the responsibility of these companies to see to it that there are no pesticides used in the concentrates.
SHRI V. NARAYANASAMY: You are testing the whole bottle as such. You say, water is being tested and sugar is being tested. Only when you test the concentrates, everything will be complete. Leaving one, you test the remaining two. You should concentrate on the concentrates also...
SHRI N. JOTHI: Mr. Narayanasamy rarely speaks like this.
MR. DEPUTY CHAIRMAN: Now, let us not make it a party issue. It is in the interest of the whole House. A message should go from Parliament to the people of this country that everybody is concerned. That is why we are discussing this. This is not a party issue.
DR. ANBUMANI RAMDOSS: As much as all the hon. Members are concerned about, I am even more concerned...
MR. DEPUTY CHAIRMAN: We are helping you to take action.
DR. ANBUMANI RAMDOSS: They are the real consumers of the country. It is not only an issue pertaining to the consumers of this country, but it also concerns the health of the younger generation.
Mr. Bhardwaj also asked whether the Government is under any pressure from any of these companies. I would say, it is, definitely, not so, irrespective of howsoever big these companies may be.
(Continued by 3T)
DR. ANBUMANI RAMDOSS (CONTD.): You all know how the Health Ministry is taking on tobacco. Let us see what we are trying to do with regard to tobacco. The consumers are our main area, and we are really concerned about the health of consumers.
Then, he has raised a query whether advertisements of these products can be banned. Sir, from the health issue, I am coming to this point of advertisement. It is not like, Sir, today we just ban the advertisement of a proprietary food item, and then the product. It is not as simple as that. On the health issues, like, Sir, today, tobacco cannot be advertised, or, alcohol cannot be advertised. In fact, today tobacco is being used in this country, and it is more dangerous than these things. ...(Interruptions)... I am coming to the point, Sir. We have the Cable and Television Act of 1994. There is a provision in that Act. The Government is discussing with the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting the issue of banning of advertisement, but we have not taken any decision on that. We are just discussing it with the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, and we have not taken any decision on that, Sir.
Then, Shri Mahendra Mohan wanted to know about the standards in the European countries. Our standards are more stringent than the standards pertaining to these carbonated drinks in the European countries.
MR. DEPUTY CHAIRMAN: But, his point is, whether any pesticide was found in any of these European countries. If so, what is the content of it, what is the percentage of that? See, this discussion has arisen because of the excess content of pesticide. If that is the case, is there any parallel, similar issue in any part of the world on Coca Cola and Pepsi, which is agitating those countries also, or, is it just confining to India? This is what they wanted to know.
DR. ANBUMANI RAMDOSS: Sir, I would like to say that the standards here are more... I understand their concern about that.
MR. DEPUTY CHAIRMAN: If this information is not with you right now, you can find it out also.
DR. ANBUMANI RAMDOSS: Yes, Sir, I will find it out. If this issue is worldwide, I will let the hon. Member know about this issue. He was also saying whether it should be mentioned on the bottle or on the package that this product is injurious to health, like he mentioned that tobacco is injurious to health. He wanted to know whether it should mentioned outside the bottle of carbonated drink. Sir, as it is, there should not be any pesticide, any contaminant in this. And, if there is any contaminant, then, they are at fault, they should be penalised. They will be penalised for that.
MR. DEPUTY CHAIRMAN: You penalise them. That is what the hon. Members want.
DR. ANBUMANI RAMDOSS: So, it should not be mentioned then. Of course, Mr. Reddy was asking about the Andhra Pradesh issue, whether the State could ban any product under that. I have already clarified that issue. Again, I would like to say that there is section 7. Under that, if the State Government feels that it is detrimental to consumers...(Interruptions)...
SHRI RAVULA CHANDRA SEKAR REDDY: My question was simple. What is your advice to the States?
MR. DEPUTY CHAIRMAN: They have sent advisories to the States.
SHRI RAVULA CHANDRA SEKAR REDDY: If it is injurious to the people of Kerala, then, why is it not injurious to the people of Andhra and other parts of the country? ...(Interruptions)...
MR. DEPUTY CHAIRMAN: Mr. Reddy, the Minister has already clarified that he has sent advisories to all the States. ...(Interruptions)...
DR. ANBUMANI RAMDOSS: I have already clarified this issue. ...(Interruptions)...
SHRI RAVULA CHANDRA SEKAR REDDY: Sir, there should be uniformity in it. ...(Interruptions)...
MR. DEPUTY CHAIRMAN: On Advisories, there is uniformity.
SHRI RAVULA CHANDRA SEKAR REDDY: Sir, nobody is following them. How come Kerala has banned it in the entire State? If it is banned in Kerala, then, why not in Karnataka and Andhra? Why not it be banned in his own State. ...(Interruptions)...
MR. DEPUTY CHAIRMAN: You know there is a difference between the direction and the advisory. ...(Interruptions)...
SHRI P.G. NARAYANAN: Sir, here the consumer is involved. ...(Interruptions)...
SHRI N. JOTHI: The Kerala people will be very healthy and other people will always be in hospitals. ...(Interruptions)...
SHRI P.G. NARAYANAN: They cannot take it lightly. ...(Interruptions)... The Government is taking this lightly. ...(Interruptions)...
DR. ANBUMANI RAMDOSS: Mr. Reddy was asking whether the Committee's tenure would be time-bound. Yes. ...(Interruptions)... I have already clarified the issue relating to the Committee. Mr. Perumal said something which I could not hear.
SHRI N. JOTHI: He said about Palm Cola. ...(Interruptions)...
MR. DEPUTY CHAIRMAN: It is an alternate drink! ...(Interruptions)...
SHRI N. JOTHI: Earlier he was the Chairman of the Palm Board. ...(Interruptions)...
MR. DEPUTY CHAIRMAN: It is a good suggestion (Contd. by kgg/3u)
DR. ANBUMANI RAMADOSS: Yes, Sir, it is a good suggestion. Mr. Bhandary was also concerned about the health of children. Mrs. Indira was enquiring whether this is banned in Tamil Nadu, to which I have already replied that each State could take steps.. (Interruptions) Then, Mr. Madaniji talked about the Kolkata report; whether till such time this could be banned. I would again say that at the end of the year if we are getting the final standard of sugar, we will be having standards altogether. I again say that if the States, even today, could test and see a product not only the carbonated products but also the other products and take a decision commensurate with the testing standards, if there are contamination in that, individual States could definitely take decisions on that.
Mr. Prasad raised general issues that concern this House. I think, these are some of the issues raised by the hon. Members today. I would again like to reiterate. You have been rightly saying that there have been apprehensions in the minds of consumers of this country on this issue....
MR. DEPUTY CHAIRMAN: Address those issues, that is all this House wants.
DR. ANBUMANI RAMDOSS: Yes, Sir, that is why... (Interruptions)
SHRI N. JOTHI: Sir, I am not confronting him, but would question him... (Interruptions)
DR. ANBUMANI RAMDOSS: I will answer your queries.
SHRI N. JOTHI: I would like to have a copy of that legislation. Ask your officers to pass on a copy to me.
DR. ANBUMANI RAMDOSS: I will give you tomorrow.
SHRI N. JOTHI: Please, I would go through it. Do not send it tomorrow, today itself. I want to find out your power, in the Central Government, to ban it. Please give me that legislation, I will show the section immediately. (Interruptions) Section 7 I know, it says that the Central Government can take immediate action. The Central Government has got the power.
MR. DEPUTY CHAIRMAN: He has not said that the Central Government has no power. (Interruptions)
SHRI N. JOTHI: Then why is he not exercising that power? (Interruptions) The committee will go into that, another committee will further go into, yet another committee will go into it, and still another committee will come. But, in the meanwhile, he would go! What is this, Sir? You are making.... (Interruptions)
DR. ANBUMANI RAMDOSS: When you were ruling, why did you not ban it? (Interruptions)
SHRI N. JOTHI: I will answer it. At that time, there was no pesticide. In your ruling only it has come, Sir. (Interruptions) Last week only it has come, and last week we have not demitted the office. We demitted the office in April. (Interruptions) We banned it immediately.
MR. DEPUTY CHAIRMAN: You banned it and lifted it too. (Interruptions)
DR. ANBUMANI RAMDOSS: I know what they banned! I wanted to fully allay the apprehensions of the consumers of this country by saying that the Government is definitely very serious on this issue. Sir, there are two different issues: contamination and health. Today, the problem of contamination is very much in the news and we have given advisories to the State Governments, to the HRD Ministry. I have written to them. The State Government should also pick up more samples and test them. If found again, they should take decisions on doing away with these products, for the betterment of this country. But, on the whole, the Government of India is also going into the process of setting standards. It is not that we do not have standards today; we have standards, but we are trying to set comprehensive standards.
I personally and as a Minister, am very concerned about the issue and we will be taking all steps to satisfy the consumers of this country. Thank you.
MR. DEPUTY CHAIRMAN: The House stands adjourned till 11 a.m. tomorrow.
The House then adjourned at twenty-five minutes
past six of the clock,till eleven of the clock
on Friday, the 11th August, 2006.