The traders at Indias biggest fruit mandi at Azad Pur New Delhi wherefrom Kashmir too gets its supplies, have confessed in a media stint that the chemical is used to ripen about 80 per cent of mangoes reaching the market, before they find their way to the retailers.
There is hardly any monitoring by the authorities to check this practice. Ingestion of calcium carbide, a harmful chemical popularly called masala in the market, can affect the neurological system.
Thousands of cartons containing green, hard and fresh mangoes reached the market from different parts of the country.
In the same complex, some people were selling masala in small sachets, each packet costing Rs 2 or 3.
Mango traders buy this masala and use it for quick ripening of the fruit by adding a sachet at every layer of mangoes in cartons.
This is the only way to quickly ripen the mangoes, a trader said. People would not buy it green. But after adding masala, all mangoes in a carton will ripen, turn yellow and be ready to eat within a day, he added.
Another trader said the plucked mangoes cant ripe on their own and if they didnt use carbide, most of the yield would be destroyed and lead to heavy losses.
The traders claimed that they have no option but to use the chemical for ripening the fruit.
Mangoes generally come from Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, UP, Maharashtra, West Bengal and other faraway states, a dealer at the Azadpur market said.
“Farmers there pluck it prematurely because in that condition the fruit is more resistant to damage during handling, transportation and storage.
“Doing it otherwise will incur huge losses for all concerned in the business. Ripe fruits are softer and, therefore, more prone to damage.”
Though the use of calcium carbide in fruits is banned, the practice continues unhindered in the wholesale market.
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