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Industry & Economy - Courts/Legal Issues


Shimoga arecanut traders hail SC judgment

A.J. Vinayak

Following the SC judgment on gutkha, traders in Shimoga hope to reach the pre-2002 stage within two years.

Mangalore , Aug 2

ARECANUT traders in Shimoga and Sagar markets of Karnataka are heaving a sigh of relief over the judgment of the Supreme Court on gutkha and pan masala. On Monday, a bench of Supreme Court lifted the ban on sale of gutkha and pan masala in some States.

Red variety of arecanut — which is grown in Shimoga and Sagar regions of Shimoga district and Bheemasamudra of Chitradurga district in Karnataka — is one of the main ingredients of these products.

Sources in the Shimoga arecanut market told Business Line that nearly 100 arecanut traders in Shimoga, around 40 in Sagar, and more than 25 in Bheemasamudra were forced to close their business when some State Governments imposed ban on the sale of gutkha and pan masala in 2002. Most of them were supplying arecanut to some of the major gutkha companies in Maharashtra and Andhra Pradesh.

Even those who survived in the trade were operating only 10 per cent of what they used to trade before the imposition of the ban. Following the SC judgment on gutkha, traders in Shimoga hope to reach the pre-2002 stage within two years. Welcoming the judgement of the Supreme Court, Mr L.T. Thimmappa, President of the Sagar Prantya Adike Belegarara Sangha, said the entire economy of Shimoga district is dependent on areca cultivation. Lifting the ban on gutkha and pan masala will improve the economy of the region in general and arecanut market in particular. He said that arecanut does not contain any carcinogenic material as was claimed by some people. The Central Food Technological Research Institute (CFTRI) has been asked to conduct a study in this regard. He hoped that CFTRI report would be in favour of arecanut growers. Stating that arecanut was made scapegoat while imposing ban on gutkha and pan masala, Mr Thimmappa said the chemical composition of these products should be properly studied.

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