Irradiated food is regulated in the country in accordance with the Atomic Energy (Control of Irradiation of Food) Rules, 1996. Food can be irradiated only in a food irradiation plant, which is authorized by the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board and licensed by the competent Government Authority. The license to carry out food irradiation operation is given only after ascertaining the safety of the installation, its suitability to ensure proper process control, and availability of licensed operators and qualified staff. Board of Radiation & Isotope Technology (BRIT) is providing consultancy services for establishment of food irradiation plant. Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) is also regulating the food safety aspects of irradiated food products.
Under the scheme of Cold Chain, Value Addition and Preservation Infrastructure, the Ministry provides financial assistance in the form of grant-in-aid @ 50% of the total cost of plant & machinery and technical civil works in general areas and 75% for NE region and difficult areas (North-Eastern States, Sikkim, J&K, Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand) subject to a maximum grant-in-aid of Rs. 10 Crore for setting up integrated cold chain projects including irradiation facility. The entrepreneurs/ promoters are free to set up Irradiation facility as per their business model and financial capability throughout the country including Maharashtra. The Ministry has approved 04 irradiation projects under the Scheme. A total grant of Rs. 24.04 crore has been approved for these four projects.
The Ministry is also assisting setting up of Irradiation facility as one of the components under scheme of Cold Chain, Value Addition and Preservation Infrastructure for non-horticultural products under National Mission on Food Processing (NMFP) through State/UT Governments. The financial assistance is provided as Grant-in-aid @ 35% of the bank appraised project cost for general areas, and @ 50% of the project cost for difficult areas including North-Eastern Region, subject to maximum of Rs. 5 crore. Interest Subsidy @ 6% per annum subject to a maximum of Rs. 2.00 crore per project or actual interest accrued on term loan, whichever is lower, for a period of 5 years from completion of the project for general areas, and @ 7% per annum subject to a maximum of Rs. 3.00 crore per project or actual interest accrued on term loan, whichever is lower, for a period of 7 years from completion of the project for difficult areas including North-Eastern Region and hilly States.
The scheme guidelines for Cold Chain, Value Addition and Preservation Infrastructure prescribe implementation schedule for setting up the cold chain projects including Irradiation projects as 24 months in general areas and 30 months in difficult areas from the date of issue of the sanction to the project.
This information was given by the Minister of State for Food Processing Industries Sadhvi Niranjan Jyoti in a written reply in the Lok Sabha today.