Sunday, June 23, 2019 10:55:01 PM
Staff Reporter :
The High Court (HC) on Sunday sought a list of milk and curd producers in Dhaka. The Bangladesh Standards and Testing Institution (BSTI) has been given two weeks to file the list of such companies operating with and without licenses.
The High Court bench of Justice Md Nazrul Islam Talukder and Justice KM Hafizul Alam passed the order while hearing on a Suo Moto rule issued by this court earlier and fixed July 15 as the next hearing date.
While hearing, the High Court expressed serious astonishment and dissatisfaction at the Bangladesh Standards and Testing Institution's (BSTI) statement which said it has no responsibility about the companies and dairy farms which have no license for producing and supplying pasteurized milk and curd.
"We are astonished at your statement. Who has given you the right to play ducks and drakes with the people's health? They have no license, but they are producing and supplying milk! Who is responsible for looking into it?" the HC bench asked.
The bench made the comment to BSTI's lawyer Barrister Sarkar M R Hassan and Deputy Director Nurul Islam as they told the court that BSTI looks into the matters of only 18 companies which were given license for producing and supplying pasteurized milk and curd.
Barrister Sarkar M R Hassan said the Directorate of Agriculture Extension and the Ministry of Fisheries and Livestock are responsible for taking steps about the companies which have no license for producing and supplying pasteurized milk and curd.
Anti-Corruption Commission's lawyer Advocate Syed Mamun Mahbub and Deputy Attorney General A K M Amin Uddin Manik opposed this statement and said the BSTI has been given powers in the law to take action against the companies and dairy farms which have no license for producing and supplying pasteurized milk and curd.
The BSTI is diverting the responsibility to others, they said, adding that the court needs to be rigid on this issue.
Then the BSTI lawyer requested the court to pass an order for destroying the pasteurized milk and curd produced and supplied by the unregistered companies and dairy farms.
The court said the lawyer made a contradictory statement as he earlier said BSTI is not responsible over the companies which have no license for producing and supplying milk and curd.
The HC bench ordered the BSTI to submit a report to it in two weeks containing the names and particulars of the companies and firms that were producing and supplying milk and curd in Dhaka without having any license.
It also asked the BSTI to include in the report the names and particulars of the companies and firms producing and supplying milk and curd with a valid license.
The HC bench also asked the organizations concerned of the government not to disturb Professor Shahnila Ferdousi, Head of National Food Safety Laboratory (NFSL), over its study report.
The NFSL, in a study report, said it found the presence of excessive levels of lead and pesticides in raw cow milk, regular consumption of which may pose threats to human health.
The study also found a high level of chromium in fodder and excessive presence of pesticides, antibiotics and bacteria in raw cow milk.
Prof Shahnila's lawyer Barrister Shahin Ahmed told the court that a few government organizations had disturbed and pressed her for the names of the companies producing adulterated raw cow milk and curd and about the systems of her research.
Prof Shahnila was present in the courtroom during the hearing of the rule yesterday.
Earlier in the day, the BSTI submitted a report to the HC saying that it has tested 305 samples of curds from across the country and found 303 samples standard and found only two samples from Dhaka and Sylhet substandard.
Meanwhile, Bangladesh Food Safety Authority's lawyer Barrister Mohammed Faridul Islam sought four weeks' time from the HC to submit the report on the companies and the individuals responsible for the adulteration of milk, curd and fodder, saying that his client is yet to collect the reports from the laboratories concerned.
The court directed BFSA to submit the report before it by July 15.
Earlier on May 15, the HC bench ordered the BFSA and BSTI to submit separate reports detailing the names of companies and persons responsible for the adulteration of raw cow milk, curd and fodder by June 23.
On that day, the bench had issued a serious warning saying that the companies and individuals responsible for adulterating milk and curd, whoever they were, would not be spared and they must be punished.
None will be allowed to play ducks and drakes with people's lives and health, as safe food is a fundamental right of people, the court said, asking, "How will the nation be built if health of its future generation is not sound?"
The BFSA on May 8 submitted a test report to the HC and said it found harmful elements in most of the 190 samples of raw and packed liquid milk, curd, and fodder. The samples were tested at the NFSL.
On February 11, the court issued the rule after Professor Shahnila Ferdousi detected presence of Salmonella, Escherichia Coli, Aflatoxin and residues of deadly pesticides like Endosulfan and chemicals like Chromium and Lead in 190 samples of cow milk, curd and cattle feed tested between August and December in 2018.
The Institute of Public Health has tested 96 samples of cow milk from the dairy firms, 31 samples of imported and locally produced milk, 30 feed samples and 33 curd samples.
The samples were collected from 18 places of six upazilas in Dhaka, Gazipur and Narayanganj.
Presence of Escherichia Coli bacteria was found in 96 per cent of the milk samples.
Salmonella bacteria were found in one of the samples.
Issuing the Suo Moto rule, the HC bench on February 11 had directed the ACC to enquire about the adulteration of milk, curd, and fodder and take legal action against those responsible.
The court also asked the BFSA to form a probe committee to identify in three months the individuals and businesses involved in adulteration of dairy products and fodder.
The HC bench came up with the order and rule following reports on adulteration published in various dailies on February 11.
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