By Mizan Rahman

In a move to contain misuse of formalin, a preservative, in fruits and foods across Bangladesh, the cabinet yesterday approved the draft of Formalin Control Act 2014, keeping a provision of maximum life-term imprisonment and 2mn taka fine.

The approval was given at the regular weekly meeting of the cabinet held at Bangladesh Secretariat with Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina in the chair.

According to experts, formalin is used as an embalming fluid and for the preservation of animal specimens and tissue samples. It is also used, generally in a much more dilute form, as a disinfectant, and anti-bacterial wash and in aquariums for treating parasite infections in fish. The disinfectant properties of the solution are due to the presence of formaldehyde, which also gives it a pungent,
irritating smell.

Briefing reporters after the meeting, cabinet secretary M Musharraf Hossain Bhuiyan said the draft was first placed before the cabinet on November 4, 2013 and approved in principle by the cabinet with some observations.

The cabinet secretary said the draft law did not propose banning formalin rather it suggested tougher punishment to regulate its production, import, transport, stock, sale and use without licence.

The law with six chapters and 37 sections also kept a provision of maximum seven years of imprisonment or 500,000 taka fine or both in case of
violating the terms of licence.

Hussain said it also kept a provision of maximum 10 years imprisonment or 2mn taka as fine for possessing equipment of formalin

The cabinet secretary said the offences under the law would be cognizable and it would be non-bailable.

For quick action, the law could be implemented through mobile courts although it has the provision of higher

In order to supervise the implementation of the law, formalin control committees would be constituted in every district and sub-district.

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