Himachal Pradesh High Court bans junk food in non-biodegradable packs

Judges express hope that move will protect environment as well as children’s health

By Kundan Pandey
Published: Tuesday 15 January 2013

Barring essential food items like milk, vegetable oil and medicine, the Himachal Pradesh High Court on Monday ordered the state government to ban sale of junk food in non-biodegradable packs. The ban would be effective from April 1.

In its order, a division bench, comprising Justice Deepak Gupta and Justice Sanjay Karol, said the ban will not cover essential items which are usually supplied in non-biodegradable material.

Earlier, the court had constituted a committee to identify food, especially junk food, supplied in non-biodegradable packs in Himachal Pradesh (see ‘Panel for identification’).

The committee identified chips, wafers, biscuits, namkeen, candy, chewing gum, ice-cream, chocolates, noodles, sugary cereals, cornflakes, pizzas, burgers, patties, French fries, carbonated drinks, fruit beverages, cakes among other non-essential food items that are sold in non-biodegradable packs. The court order, however, said the food items identified for the ban were not final.

The high Court judges observed, “We have found that the situation in the State of Himachal Pradesh with regard to degradation of the environment on account of plastic has improved ever since the Act {Non-Biodegradable (Control) Act, 1995} was framed and plastic was banned in the State”.

The judges said that sale of junk food in biodegradable packs may make them more expensive. However, the price rise may reduce their consumption eventually protecting environment as well as children’s health.

Panel for identification
In 2010, the Himachal Pradesh High Court constituted a committee to list food items that are sold in non-biodegradable packets. Sarojini Ganju Thakur, the then additional chief secretary and head of the department of environment science and technology headed the committee. But the committee failed to give the desired result.

Subsequently, the court constituted another committee asking it to draw a list of junk foods packed in non-biodegradable packs and submit its report November 30, 2012. The new committee, headed by principal secretary (science & technology), constituted principal secretary (law), principal secretary (health), director (health services), director (ayurveda), head of department of paediatrics, IGMC, Simla and head of the department of medicines, IGMC, Simla. This committee, too, did not submit its report on time. A court rap to submit the report within 10 days elicited results.


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