Notice issued to Centre, Railways for toxic vegetables grown on farms along railway tracks

Toxic Veggies grown along tracks: Bombay Hogh Court notice to Centre, railways

मुंबई Mumbai: The Bombay high court has issued notices to the Union government and the Indian Railways on a public interest litigation that alleged high toxic levels in vegetables grown on farms along railway tracks in Mumbai. A division bench of Justice Anoop Mohta and Justice Nitin Jamdar has scheduled the matter for further hearing on February 20.

The PIL, which also names the Maharashtra Pollution Control Board as a party, was filed by Maza Bharat Samajik Sanstha. The PIL has urged the court to direct the railways to act against contractors and employees who have been allowed to grow vegetables along railway tracks. The petitoners have sought a ban on production and sale of vegetables grown along the tracks on Central Railway, Western Railway and the Harbour Line. Instead, flowers can be grown on such farms, the PIL said.

The farms were allowed by the railway authorities as a way to prevent encroachments. In the absence of proper irrigation facilities, putrid and filthy water from flowing drains is used to water the plants. The vegetables are sold in makeshift vegetable markets on pavements outside stations including Dadar, Parel, Byculla, Kanjurmarg, Borivli, Malad, Andheri, Mira Road, Dombivli, Kalyan and Panvel.

The PIL referred to a study by a private organisation which found the presence of heavy metals like zinc, cadmium, lead, cobalt, chromium and even arsenic in samples of vegetables grown along railway tracks in Panvel and Juinagar. The presnce of heavy metals reveals that water used for farming was contaminated with domestic waste and industrial effluents, the PIL alleged.

The petitoner further pointed out that besides being in violation of the Prevention of Food Adulteration Act, the consumption of such vegetables was a substantial health risk. The railways are, however, turning a blind eye to the issue, the PIL claimed.