Food adulteration: Opposition walks out in Kerala assembly

Last Updated: Wed, Dec 22, 2010 08:20 hrs

Thiruvananthapuram, Dec 22 (IANS) The Congress-led opposition Wednesday walked out of the Kerala assembly after the government rejected a demand for a judicial probe into a report that said state-owned Supplyco was selling adulterated food items.

Seeking to move an adjournment motion on the issue, veteran opposition legislator K.M. Mani said the state-owned Public Analyst Laboratory found that 18 food items like rice given to school children, chilly and coriander powder were adulterated.

'It is unfortunate that Food Minister C. Divakaran has mentioned that out of 91 samples only two were adulterated. It is not true as the Vigilance and Anti-Corruption Bureau submitted a report that a number of food items in three districts were adulterated,' Mani said.

'They have recommended statewide raids on the godowns besides stopping payments to the erring suppliers. The department did neither of the two,' he pointed out.

A trader, P. Yahiya, first pointed out about the poor quality of food items being supplied to the Supplyco last year.

After waiting for several months and no government action coming, Yahiya approached the high court this month which Tuesday said the issue was of a serious nature.

Divakaran said four officials of Supplyco were suspended and one was dismissed from service.

'A government order came out yesterday (Tuesday), stopping all payments to the suppliers. A detailed inquiry and raids are going on across the state. We will not spare the guilty. None of the so-called adulterated items have reached the shops,' he said.

Leader of Opposition Oommen Chandy said the people of Kerala wish to know why the additional advocate general requested the court not to make any adverse remarks on Yahiya's complaint and to post the case after two weeks.

'We wish to know from the chief minister (V.S. Achuthanandan) that why the government is not taking the issue seriously. Yahiya had to wait a year after giving a complaint to the department. Justice appears to have come only after he went to the court,' he said.

Achuthanandan intervened and assured the members that the fraudulent suppliers would be brought before law and the guilty sent to jail.

'The food minister has assured the house of prompt action and what he said is the opinion of the government,' he added.

Dissatisfied by the rejection of their demand for a judicial probe into the issue, Chandy led the opposition out of the house.

The vigilance report had said that inferior quality food items were being supplied to the state at a very high price, and for every truckload arriving in the state, officials were being bribed to see that these low quality products are allowed to be sold.

More from Sify: