New Delhi: In a bid to rid the national capital of food adulteration, Delhi government has decided to enact stringent laws to curb the illegal activity. The new law would provide for granting a maximum punishment of life imprisonment and a penalty up to Rs 10 lakh for those found guilty.

Speaking about the guidelines, Delhi Health Minister A K Walia said, “Seeing the health risks and to prevent adulteration in food items, the government will enforce the legislation by August 2011.”

The Health Minister assured that the new Act would prove handy in checking food adulteration in the city making the illegal business almost impossible.

Centre had already passed Food Safety and Standards Act in 2006. Elaborating on the issue, Health department officials informed that although the Act was passed by the Parliament in 2006, Centre’s notification of the rules for enforcement of the Act has only commenced recently.

They also guaranteed that those involved in adulteration will not be able to get away as the Act provides for penalty on manufacturers of adulterated food items of Rs 1 lakh to 10 lakh, which can be adjudicated by the Sub-Divisional Magistrate. Depending upon the nature of the crime, adulterers may face punishment ranging from six months to life imprisonment as per the provisions of the law, officials said.

Walia promised that they are determined to enforce the legislation at the earliest. He also said that the new legislation will replace the existing Prevention of Food Adulteration Act.

“As per the new provisions of law, adulterated food manufacturers may face imprisonment up to seven years with fine of Rs 10 lakh. However, in case of death caused due to adulterated food items, the punishment can be increased to life term and fine up to Rs 10 lakh”, Walia said.

Walia also stated that in case of death after consumption of adulterated food, kin of the deceased will get compensation of not less than Rs 5 lakh while in case of severe injury not less than Rs 3 lakh will be granted.

“Under the Act, it will become mandatory for all the food traders to register themselves with the food department or will have to procure license,” Walia informed.

According to the new provisions, misleading advertisements will not be used for promotion of sub-standard food items. These cases will not be dealt by courts. Instead a fine upto Rs 10 lakh can be directly imposed on them. It may be noted that as per the existing PFA Act, case related to these offences are adjudicated in court. The change provision would help in disposing such cases at the earliest.

Walia also affirmed that a fine up to Rs 2 lakh will be imposed on all those food items, which are not of prescribed quality.

Any un-hygienic or un-sanitary processing or manufacturing of food items will draw a fine of Rs one lakh.

Walia informed that last month the PFA department lifted 264 samples from various food markets. While 40 were found to be adulterated, results of 43 samples are still awaited.

JPN/Bureau