India: Sikkim withdraws ban on non-organic produce

Surprisingly, the government of the Indian state of Sikkim on Monday withdrew a bill that sought a ban on imports of non-organic produce to this north-eastern, Himalayan state.

The bill proposed to ban the influx of non-organic vegetables, livestock and other produce to Sikkim, coming into effect on March 31, 2018. Horticulture and Cash Crop Development Department Minister Somnath Poudyal withdrew the ‘Sikkim Non-Organic Agriculture and Horticulture Commodities (Prohibition and Regulatory) Bill’ when he was asked to introduce it by Deputy Speaker Sonam Gyatso Lepcha.

When asked why the bill was withdrawn at the last moment, Poudyal cited technical reasons, but did not elaborate further. However, India Today learned that a senior state government official said that the draft of the bill was flawed and required large-scale changes in the text, which was difficult in such a short time. He said that the bill will be introduced in the budget session, in March.

The list of non-organic products to be barred from entering Sikkim were: maize, beans, brinjal, bitter gourd, bottle gourd, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, capsicum, carrot, chayote, cucumber, drumstick, lady fingers, leafy vegetables, spinach, pea, radish, tomato, pointed gourd, banana, guava, mango, orange, papaya, ginger, green chilly and turmeric.

Products to be prohibited from March 31, 2019 onwards are: millet/finger millet, soy bean, rapeseed, mustard, onion, potato, garlic, milk & packaged milk and mustard oil cake.

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