For the first time, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) has come out with reports of the samples of vegetables grown parallel to the railway lines. The reports suggest that they were fit for human consumption, with no microbes or bacteria present in the samples.
However, the vegetable samples are being further tested at the state’s Pune Laboratory to check for any other substances present in them. The level of toxic chemicals, heavy metals and contamination will be verified during these tests.
This move to send the samples for testing was driven by the notice of motion which was tabled last month by Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) corporator, Sudhir Jadhav.
The executive health officer (EHO) of the BMC, Dr Arun Bamne, said that the health department had collected samples from at least 18 random spots along the western, central and the harbour lines where the vegetables are grown.
He added that it was a matter of “scientific assurances” to claim that vegetables grown this way cause diseases like jaundice, gastro, cholera and stomach infections, but that these ailments are also caused when they are not washed or cooked properly. “Whether grown along the railway track or in open farms, they need to be consumed hygienically.”
He further added that the civic body needed records or reports in hand before acting on any such complaints. “We need a scientific study to take a stand on such cultivation. We have to ascertain these facts with the reports from the laboratory and then put it on record,” the EHO said.
A senior civic official said that before becoming a part of civic norms, notice of motions are usually moved in the civic body once a month and then sent to the urban development department for further approval. “But considering the nature of the subject, the issue was taken up promptly by the health department and acted upon proactively,” the official said.
Officials added that the issue had come up several times in the past. The civic administration had earlier requested that railway authorities conduct a study to stop such cultivation in their jurisdiction. “The subject directly impacts the health of citizens, which is our prime concern. Since railway officials didn’t respond to our request, we decided go ahead with it ourselves,” an offiial added.