THE cabinet in a welcome move on Monday finally Okayed the draft law on checking import of formalin and its widespread abuse in foodstuffs. Through preparation of this draft bill a pivotal requirement is being met towards facing this mounting threat to public health.
While appreciating the move, we would like to stress that once enacted in parliament, the law itself won't be enough to counter this national health hazard, unless the mechanisms to enforce it and monitor the same are also duly in place.
It is worthwhile to note that, mobile courts have been in action since long to address the malaise through destruction of fruits, vegetables or other perishables on sale found to have been contaminated by formalin as well as penalizing traders found guilty of its abuse. But despite the drive, its effect proved to be ephemeral and it could hardly allay the public fear about the safety of the commodities in the market place. This brings under spotlight the efficacy of the existing mechanisms to enforce any law against this evil practice.
The draft law sounds stringent as it provides up to life imprisonment and Tk. 20 lakh in fine for illegal import, stockpiling, or production of formalin. Evidently, this law will help circumscribe the availability of formalin in black markets. But what about keeping track of what happens to this dangerous chemical after it passes into the market from its licensed importers? Hence is the need for strengthening the monitoring and implementation mechanisms to stave off reckless use of this toxic chemical.