Opposition walkout in Kerala Assembly over babyfood

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Thiruvananthapuram, Mar 18 (UNI) The Congress-led Opposition staged a walkout in the Kerala Assembly today protesting the Government's refusal to take action against the babyfood companies which violated the rules.

The Opposition alleged that Health Minister P K Sreemathy's order not to take any legal action against a babyfood company for three months for violating the rules was a criminal offence.

''The Health Minister has no right to give such an order under any law,'' said Mr V D Satheesan (Cong) seeking leave of the House to move an adjournment motion on the issue.

The Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) had asked the government to take action against babyfood companies which violated the rules. ''By giving more time to a company, Ms Sreemathy has violated all norms.

This will only help others to continue their production,'' he said.

A babyfood company, which had stated that it would get a licence in 90 days, had written to the government pleading not to take any legal action against it for three months. The Minister had given the order on the basis of this letter, which itself said that it had violated the law. This was a violation of the rules, Mr Satheesan pointed out.

Replying to notice for the adjournment motion, Ms Sreemathy said the order was given on the basis of the Food Safety Standards Act. The Act says that before taking action against any company, notice should be served to the company and also give them time for taking corrective measures.

She also said that strict action would be taken against those companies which violated the laws and they would not be allowed to function.

Leader of the Opposition Oommen Chandy asked on what basis the Minister gave the order to a company which violated the law.

The order had been given against the BIS notification, Mr Chandy said adding ''the Minister had given the order without any report on the issue.'' UNI PN ROY RL SSC1350

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