Food Adulteration in Chardham Pilgrimage routes of Uttarakhand  

Budox 7 Min Read

A Report of Society of Pollution and Environmental Conservation Scientists (SPECS), A NGO based in Dehradun, Uttarakhand, India. Dr. Brij Mohan Sharma, Secretary, SPECS.

SPECS conducted  food adulteration campaign from May to mid August 2016 along the Char-Dham routes in Uttarakhand. Some of the holy Hindu pilgrimage centres are located here, which see massive influx of pilgrims during the brief summer months. SPECS has been conducting this Campaign annually since 2005. This year, SPECS’ volunteers collected 1685 samples of 36 food items of which  1392  samples were found to be adulterated. Collected samples were analyzed in a laboratory catalysed and supported by Department of Science & Technology, Delhi.

It has been noticed that adulteration is spreading like an epidemic and the administration is no mood to find a vaccination for it.

Key statistics from this data include –

  • 1685 samples of 36 food items were collected.
  • 1392 Samples were found adulterated.
  • 83% food samples adulterated along the Char-Dham routes.
  • 100% adulteration found in four items such as Mustard oil, Roli, Laddu, Jalebi and Batisa.
  • Minimum adulteration found was 50% at Agrakhal.
  • Roli in all the temples was found synthetic and contains LEAD.
  • Iodized salt samples did not actually contain iodine.
  • Vinegar sold along the route was 100% synthetic
  • .


Laboratory tests found 84% adulteration across all spices. Out of 585 samples of spices 489 samples were found adultrated. In these, maximum adulteration was found in iodised salt and minimum in Black Salt. 93% Adulteration in Red Chilli powder, 92% in Coriander powder, 91% in Turmeric powder, 90% in Sesame, 88% in Garaam Masala, 86% in Asafoetida, 85% in Saffron, 83% in Cloves, 80% in Green Cardamom, 68% in Black Pepper, 65% in Cinnamon and 63% in Cumin were found.

The adulterants found in tests were – Metanil Yellow, Lead Chromate and Rice,Sudan III in Turmeric; Rohdamin –B in Red Chilli powder, Dust and Saw dust in Garam Masala and Corriander powder, Guava skin in Dalchini, Carrot Seeds in Cumin, Iodine absent in Salt, Maize hairs and Lead Chromate  in Saffron, oil less Cloves, Black Pepper and Sesame seeds.

Regular consumption  of  Adulterated food causes bronchial problem, Glucoma, other eye diseases, ulcer and cancer, among others. Lead chromate added to turmeric powder and spices can cause anaemia, paralysis, brain damage and abortions. Lead added to water, natural and processed food can will have lead poisoning, which causes foot drop, insomnia, constipation, anaemia, and mental retardation.

Edible Oil

Out of 110 samples of Edible oil tested, 104 samples were found adulterated. 100% adulteration was found in mustard oil and 84% in refined oil.

Mineral oil. Caster oil, Argemone oil, Refined Mobil oil and Metanil yellow and Lead Chromate were found in Mustard and refined oils. Regular use of such adulterated oils can cause blindness, paralysis, liver and kidney failure, skin diseases, etc.

Milk and Milk Products

In Milk and milk products, overall 64% adultration was found. Of the 199 samples tested, 129 were found adulterated .Maximum adulteration was in Paneer 94%, followed by 82% in Mawa, 60% in Milk and 40% in Butter.

Milk Powder, Sugar, Detergent, Soda, Formalin, Butter Oil, Dirty Water, vegetable and refined oil were the main adulterants used.

Regular use of such adulterated milk products can cause Nutrient deficiency, Stomach problems, Kidney and Liver Failure and Skin diseases and Hair loss, Aging, etc.


Overall 93% adulteration was found in sweets. Out of 190 samples tested 177 were found adulterated. Maximum adultration was found in Laddoo and Jalebi which was 100%, 93% in Milk Cake, 90% in Burfi and Batisa.

Refined oil,Milk powder, Butter oil, Metanil yellow, Lead chromate,Old Meda etc. Are the general adulterants used.

Such adulteration can cause Nutrient deficiency, Stomach problems, Kidney and Liver Failure and Skin diseases and Hair loss, Aging, etc.


Out of 149 samples tested, 191 samples were found adultrated. Overall, 78% adulteration in Prasad – however, it was 100% in Roli, 80% in Honey, 72% in Desi Ghee, 67% in Elachidana and 56% in Coconut.

Lead in Roli, Artificial Honey, Vegetable oil, Mineral Oil, Hydro  etc were found in Prasad. These can cause cancer, blindness, skin and stomach problem, etc.

Tea and Coffee

About 87% adulteration was found in Tea and 64% in Coffee. Out of 165 samples tested, 129 samples were found to be adulterated.

Chromium dye and coloured tea in Tea, Tamarind and Date seed powder mixed with coffee powder were the common adulterants.

Regular use of these adulterants can cause Diarhoea, Acidity, Hypertension, Cancer and Ulcer.

Pulses and Flours

Out of 110 samples of pulses and besan tested, 80 samples were found to be adultrated. Maximum adulteration 80%

Food Adulteration in Chardham Pilgrimage routes of Uttarakhand
Food Adulteration in Chardham Pilgrimage routes of Uttarakhand

was found in Channa Dal and 77% in Besan and 67% in Arhar dal.

Khesari Dal, Metanil Yellow, old pulses were generally mixed with dal and besan.

Such adulteration can cause paralysis, blindness, skin diseases etc .

Badrinath –Kedarnath Route

On the Badrinath –Kedarnath route, overall  85% adulteration was found .The adulteration level at 21 places were as follows:

Ghangaria95% SriNagar 94%, KirtiNaga r94%, Joshimath 92%, Rishikesh 90%, Gopeshwar 90% Rudrapryag 88%, Gaurikund 88% Karanpryag 86% Hardwar 85%, Guptakash i85% Badrinath 83% Govind Ghat 82% Chamoli 80% Kedarnath 76%, Devpryag 75% PipalKoti 72% Rampur 70%,Teendhara 70%, Byasi 63%, Ukhimath 66%  and Agustmuni 62%.

Yamnotri-Gangotri  Route

On the Gangotri-Yamnotri route, overall 78 % adulteration was found. SPECS volunteers collected the samples from 25 places along the route.  Adulteration percentage  at all the sites were as follows:

Uttarkashi 93%, Jankichatti 93%, Mussorie  92%, Badkot  90%, DehraDun  89%,

Naugaon 88%, Dharansu bend  87%, Barnigad  86%, Gangotri  85%, Narender nagar  84%,

Dunda  84%, Kempti  84%, Yamnotri  83%, Rajpur   82%, Chinyalisaur  82%,

Hanunanchatti  80%, Syana Chatti 80%, Kmand  77%,  Kandikhal  73%, Damta 73%,

Kandisaur  66%,  Bemunda  66%, Fakot  66%, Maneri  60%, Agrakhal  50%.

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By Budox
Social researcher, Traveller, and Writer played diverse roles in the development sector, with a strong dedication for preservation of cultural heritage. Sharing my experince and insights on this website.
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