New Delhi: The Supreme Court today asked the government to take strict measures to curb the sale of adulterated milk across India.
"It is a very serious issue and there is no doubt that it's happening all over the country," the apex court said. "What action is being taken by the government?" the bench of justices KS Radhakrishnan and Pinaki Chandra Ghose asked.
The bench directed the governments of Haryana, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand and Delhi to file their response stating what action they are taking to put an end to the menace of milk adulteration, after the Centre submitted that it is for the state governments to take action on the issue.
The court said that it would later on expand the ambit of the PIL to include all the states in the country on the issue. The bench posted the matter for hearing on July 31 and made it clear that no further time will be given to the states to file their submissions.
The court also observed that the adulteration is because of gaps in demand and supply of milk.
It was hearing a PIL filed by a group of citizens, led by Swami Achyutanand Tirth of Uttarakhand, who have alleged that synthetic and adulterated milk and milk products are prepared using urea, detergent, refined oil, caustic soda and white paint, which, according to studies, are "very hazardous" to human life and can cause diseases like cancer.
Apart from a check on the sale of synthetic and adulterated milk and various dairy products, the PIL has also sought framing of a "comprehensive" policy on the production, supply and sale of healthy, hygienic and natural milk.
On October 21 last year, the Centre had informed the apex court that over 68 per cent of milk in the country does not conform to the standards set by the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI).
The Centre, in its submission, had referred to a survey conducted by FSSAI, which had found that over 68 per cent of the "non-conforming" milk was found in urban areas, 66 per cent of which was loose milk.
According to the FSSAI's 2011 survey, the most common way of adulteration was found to be the addition of water, and the main reason for deviation from the standards was addition of glucose and skimmed milk powder. It had also found that some samples contained detergent.
The Centre's affidavit had also stated that over 83 per cent of the non-conforming milk in rural areas was found to be loose milk.
The affidavit was filed in response to the notice issued by the apex court on May 9, 2012.