Pune: Pharmaceutical Front For Drug Trade – Earthchem Laboratories Operated Without Licence, Now Faces Closure

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Tikam Shekhawat

Pune, 21st February 2024: In a recent raid conducted by the Pune police on Earthchem Laboratories, a pharmaceutical plant located in Kurkumbh MIDC near Daund, illicit drug manufacturing activities were uncovered. The operation resulted in the seizure of approximately 650 kg of Mephedrone (also known as MD or ‘Meow Meow’), along with significant quantities of raw materials used in its synthesis. Suspicion surrounds the potential involvement of foreign nationals and individuals of Indian origin residing abroad, prompting investigations.

It’s crucial to note that the production and distribution of Mephedrone is prohibited under the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act. The seized synthetic drug was found in crystalline form at both the manufacturing site at Kurkumbh, Pune and their warehouses.
The factory owner Bhimaji Sable, and his accomplices were clandestinely producing contraband drugs under the guise of pharmaceutical manufacturing at the Earthchem Laboratories plant.

Upon scrutiny of the requisite government approvals for factory operation by Punekar News, Senior Officials of the Directorate of Industrial Safety & Health (DISH) revealed that the Earthchem Laboratories Plant was operating unlawfully without a valid factory license. It’s worth noting that DISH Pune initiated criminal proceedings against Sable in 2022 for the unauthorized operation of the factory.
Further investigation by Punekar News uncovered that while Earthchem Laboratories possessed ‘consent’, a legal permission, from the Maharashtra State Pollution Control Board (MPCB) for manufacturing Potassium Chloride, the company was illicitly engaged in the production and distribution of mephedrone, a substance prohibited by law.

Senior Advocate Ashok Gupte, while speaking to Punekar News, emphasized the severity of operating a factory without a license and manufacturing illegal drugs, stating that DISH officials have the authority to collaborate with civic authorities to seal the premises in such cases.
In this context, It is imperative to question why the relevant Factory Inspector failed to take prompt action against the illegal factory operations, raising concerns about the effectiveness of regulatory oversight by DISH officials in such cases. Additionally, it would be intriguing to see if MPCB takes cognizance of this situation and checks the legality of current ‘consent to operate’ and subsequently initiate action as per legal provisions.