Citizens' Issues
UN tightens norms on lead level in infant formula, arsenic in rice

The Codex Alimentarius Commission under the UN has set out maximum acceptable levels of lead in infant formula and of arsenic in rice


Adopting new standards to protect consumer health worldwide, United Nations (UN) food standards body Codex Alimentarius Commission has set out maximum acceptable levels of lead in infant formula and of arsenic in rice.


The Commission, jointly run by the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the UN (FAO) and the World Health Organisation (WHO), sets global food safety and quality standards to promote safer and more nutritious food for consumers worldwide.


Codex standards serve in many cases as a basis for national legislation and provide the food safety benchmarks for international food trade.


In an annual meeting held this week, FAO said, “The Commission adopted a recommendation that no more than 0.01mg per kg of lead should be permitted in infant formula as consumed.”


Lead occurs in the environment and trace amounts can end up in the ingredients that are used in the production of infant formula. Levels of lead in infant formula can be controlled by sourcing raw materials from areas where lead is less present, it said in a statement.


Also for the first time, Codex adopted a maximum level for arsenic in rice at 0.2 mg per kg, FAO said.


Stating that rice in particular can take up more arsenic than other crops, FAO said as a staple food for millions of people, it can contribute significantly to arsenic exposure, which is detrimental to human health.


Arsenic contamination in rice is of particular concern in some Asian countries where paddy fields are irrigated with groundwater containing arsenic-rich sediments pumped from shallow tube wells, it said, adding that improved irrigation and agricultural practices can help reduce arsenic contamination.


The Codex Commission also agreed to develop a new code of practice that will help countries comply with the maximum level set and provide producers with good agricultural and manufacturing techniques to prevent and reduce contamination.


It recommended that the use of certain veterinary drugs should be restricted in food-producing animals in order to prevent residual amounts of the drugs remaining in meat, milk, eggs or honey.


The eight drugs (chloramphenicol, malachite green, carbadox, furazolidone, nitrofural, chlorpromazine, stilbenes and olaquinadox), including antimicrobials and growth promoters, can potentially have adverse effects on human health and may contribute to the development of drug resistance, FAO said.  


Justice Katju poses six questions to former Chief Justice Lahoti

Justice Katju, who heads the Press Council has asked six questions to former Chief Justice RC Lahoti through his blog post on allowing a judge under corruption cloud to continue in office


Markandey Katju, former Judge at the Supreme Court, who alleged that three Chief Justices of India (CJI) made 'improper compromises' during the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) rule in allowing a judge under corruption cloud to continue in office, on Tuesday posed six questions to one of them—Justice RC Lahoti—on the issue.


Katju asked if after receiving an adverse report from the Intelligence Bureau (IB) against the Additional Judge, Lahoti, who was then CJI, called a meeting of the three-Judge Supreme Court Collegium, consisting of himself, Justice YK Sabharwal and Justice Ruma Pal. The Collegium, having perused the IB report recommended to the Government of India not to extend the 2-year-term of that Additional Judge, he said.


Katju, Chairman of the Press Council of India, put the posers to Lahoti on his blog.


On timing of his statement on Monday, he said, “Some people have commented about the timing of my statement. What happened was that some Tamilians had commented on Facebook that I am posting several matters on my Facebook post, so I should also post some of my experiences in Madras High Court.


“Then I started posting about my experiences there, and it was at that time I remembered this experience too, and posted it,” he said.


Katju asked, “Is it, or is it not, correct that after that recommendation of the three-Judge Collegium of the Supreme Court was sent to the Government, he (Justice Lahoti), on his own, without consulting his two other Supreme Court Collegium colleagues, wrote a letter asking the Government to give another one year term as Additional Judge to the Judge concerned?”


The allegation on how an unnamed additional judge of Madras High Court was given extension at the instance of UPA-I government owing to pressure from an ally, a “Tamil Nadu party”, apparently Dravida Munnettra Kazhagam (DMK), and then confirmed as a permanent judge led to an uproar in Parliament on Monday members from the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) even as questions were raised by parties like Congress on its timing.


Katju further said on his blog, “If indeed the IB reported, after an enquiry, that the Judge was indulging in corruption, why did he (Justice Lahoti) recommend to the Government of India to give that corrupt Judge another term of one year as Additional Judge in the High Court?”


Katju, who became the Chief Justice of Madras High Court in November 2004, on Monday told TV channels, “These three former CJIs made improper compromises. Justice Lahoti who started it, then Justice Sabharwal and then Justice Balakrishnan. These are CJIs who can surrender. Is a CJI going to surrender to political pressure or not going to surrender to political pressure?”


Balakrishnan rejected the allegations as “completely baseless and not factually correct".


Katju, who was a Supreme Court judge from 2006 to 2011, was appointed as the PCI Chairman on 5 October 2011 and is due to retire on 4th October this year.


He started his blog posting today by saying Lahoti, when contacted by some media people about his statement, which was published on my blog and in a daily yesterday, generally remarked that he has never done anything wrong in his life.


Katju said he (Lahoti) has not gone into any specifics, “so let me put him some specific questions:


“Is it, or is it not, correct that I first wrote him a letter from Chennai, stating that there were serious allegations of corruption about an Additional Judge of Madras High Court, and therefore he (Justice Lahoti) should get a secret intelligence enquiry held against that Additional Judge, and thereafter I personally met Justice Lahoti at Delhi and again requested for a secret IB enquiry against the Additional Judge about whom I had received several complaints, and from several sources, that he was indulging in corruption?


“Is it, or is it not, correct that on my request Justice Lahoti ordered a secret IB enquiry against that Judge?


“Is it, or is it not correct, that a few weeks after I personally met him in Delhi and then returned to Chennai, he telephoned me from Delhi (while I was at Chennai) and told me that the IB, after thorough enquiry, gave a report that indeed the Judge was indulging in corruption?”  



Vaibhav Dhoka

2 years ago

A month back I wrte thro'this column about my experience withjudicial corrution at lower judiciary.Mr Bapu Malcom thought it to be derogatory and advised editor to delete same.But J.Katju's outburst shows truth of my write up then.The institution of Judiciary is decayed one due to corruption.


2 years ago

Whether delayed or not, the Questain is whether Judiciary was under pressure from UPA govt. NDA should investigate and issue white paper.

Six more airlines to take the sky!

The domestic airline industry in India is operating at a loss and their combined loss is estimated to be at $1.7 billion in 2014. This may increase further if the price war continues and expenses are not reduced


It is reported in the press that Ashok Gajapathi Raju, Civil Aviation Minister, in the last four weeks has cleared and given no objection certificates (NOCs) to Air One Aviations Pvt Ltd, Zexus Air and Premier Air (who plan to operate nationally) while Turbo-Megha, Air Carnival and Zav Airways plan regional operations.

More than a week a ago, Moneylife carried news on Air Carnival and Zav Airways.
All these airlines are now expected to approach the Director General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) to start the process of getting an air licence, which may take about three months.
The other airlines that are already operating in the country are Air India, Jet Airways, IndiGo, Spice Jet, Go Air and Air Costa. It may recalled that Air Asia started its operations recently.
Although Air Asia started its operations with Chennai has its hub, it shifted to Bangalore as they consider it more suitable for the areas they plan to cover. Their inaugural service to Goa from Bangalore went off well; Kochi started this week and Chennai would be included shortly. Subject to their getting the delivery of aircraft every month, Air Asia expect to be break even by the end of this year. Already, it has been reported that their trips to Goa are "profitable".
The existing group of airlines, through their Federation has been trying to stop Air Asia's operations without much success. Most of the domestic airlines have been operating at a loss and with a heavy burden of loans to replay for their aircraft purchase/ lease. And yet, they have constantly engaged in cut-throat fare price wars which has resulted in passenger benefit.
In the next few months, Tata-SIA, a full service airline is likely to commence its operations and give a tough competition to others in the field.
Among the new airlines, most will be operating in known territories, it is Zav Airways that would begin its operations in virgin territory like the North East. This would be a boon to travellers visiting this region.
The domestic airline industry is operating at a loss and the combined loss is estimated to be at $1.7 billion in 2014. This may increase further if the price war continues and expenses are not reduced.
Air Costa, operating from Hyderabad, hopes to secure one aircraft every quarter while Air Asia may be able to get one every month till their needs are met. Competition in terms of price and service are going to be the key factors which would decide survival of the fittest in this airline business.
Thankfully, the Civil Aviation Minister has shown interest  in seriously considering the issue of state taxes on aviation turbine fuel (ATF). Some like Goa, Telegana, Andhra Pradesh and Chhatisgarh have made announcements relating to reduction in taxes, but whether this will become a uniform structure in all the States remains to be seen.
Minister Raju has shown interest in the 5/20 rule that is in force in the country. Unless the airline had five years experience and has a minimum of 20 aircrafts they are not permitted to operate overseas. In a press interview, he has stated that he is not aware of any country following or insisting on such a rule! It is therefore, most likely that, in the next few months this rule may be revisited and changed. It is possible that he may tweak the rules and permit overseas operations when any airline is able to provide sufficient proof that they are working "profitably"! At the same time, loss making airlines may not be permitted to go in for "expansion".
Such a rule or move would make many of our loss making airlines to wake up. Expansion is welcome, but not at a loss!
(AK Ramdas has worked with the Engineering Export Promotion Council of the ministry of commerce. He was also associated with various committees of the Council. His international career took him to places like Beirut, Kuwait and Dubai at a time when these were small trading outposts; and later to the US.)


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