Hyderabad: Four men were arrested by the Hyderabad commissioner task force on 22 May for illegally procuring and selling ethylene chemical powder (China powder), a toxic chemical imported from China to artificially ripen fruits.

The four – Dasari Venkatesh, Imtyaz Ali, Isaac, and Amith Agarwal – were caught during raids conducted at Marredpally, Ramgopalpet, and Kothapet fruit market. The police seized chemical worth Rs. 7,00,000, which were packed in 3,392 boxes which contained 100 packets each.

All the four accused are fruit vendors and they procured the banned chemical from cities like Nagpur, Ahmedabad, and Meerut. The police have also identified these traders. The four men and the seized chemical were handed over to the SHO of the Chaitanyapuri police station for further investigation.

The Central government has banned the use of calcium carbide to artificially ripen fruits. This has resulted in traders switching to other alternatives like ethylene powder which are easily available in the local market and are inexpensive, said the police.

The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India has embargoed the direct use of ethylene powder and calcium carbide to ripen fruits and vegetables due to serious health hazards. The ethylene chemical powder can cause cancer.

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