HYDERABAD: There is no way one can ignore pushcarts by the roadside selling bright yellow bananas. Three-bananas-for-ten-rupees available at any hour of the day come as quite a respite to commuters for a quick bite or sometimes even as a replacement for lunch or dinner. Over the last year, when the two Telugu states were waging a war with the mango mafia (after the mango season was well over) who use carbide to ripen the fruit artificially, there was the banana mafia operating without catching anyone’s attention.
Sleuths of the South Zone Task Force raided a few godowns in the Old City of Hyderabad recently and nabbed four persons in Reinbazar, Mirchowk, Bahadurpura and Falaknuma police limits.
They were found ripening bananas artificially at their godowns and selling the fruit to vendors. The chemical used, police said, was ‘Respon’ and ‘EP-50’.
“These are not banned chemicals but only plant growth regulators. We found several godowns where these chemicals are used to ripen wet bananas artificially in a matter of two or three days. It will give bright yellow colour to the unripe green bananas,” said a police officer on the condition of anonymity.
Normally, it would take over a week’s time for the fruit to ripen, whereas the unscrupulous agents are able to sell the fruit in less than two or three days.
A fruit trader at the Gaddiannaram wholesale fruit market, requesting not to be named, told Express: “Bananas do not come to our market. About 150 trucks carrying approximately 1,400 tonnes of banana a day come to Hyderabad. But the fruit is sold to stockists just on the city outskirts.”
So how does one confirm a banana as chemically ripened?
“If the banana is bright yellow, it is confirmed that it was artificially ripened. One should look for bananas with brown flecks or dots,” said the official.
On the other hand, the trader lamented: “The practice has been going on right under the nose of the authorities.”
Bananas are brought to Hyderabad from parts of Maharastra like Nanded, Jalgaon, Basmath, Patwari and Hingoli, and also from Nuzvid in Andhra Pradesh.
“The mango season will set in in some weeks. The vendors selling banana now will naturally shift to selling artificially ripened bananas,” said the trader.
Police found out that the four accused had been indulging in the sale of artificially ripened bananas for the last one year and that the adulteration racket was rampant all across the city.
Four adulterators were arrested in raids conducted on godowns in Reinbazar, Mirchowk, Bahadurpura and Falaknuma police limits in the old city.
How to Know
If a banana is bright yellow, it is confirmed that it has artificially been ripened. One should look for bananas with brown flecks or dots.