Published On : Fri, Oct 20th, 2017

Farmers’ deaths : 5 lethal pesticides under scanner as state proposes ban

Nagpur: In the wake of rampant deaths of farmers due to spray of pesticides in cotton fields of Vidarbha, particularly in Yavatmal where 21 of 39 deaths were registered, the state agriculture department has identified five lethal pesticides and sought views on a proposal to suspend their sale. The department is considering to put a 60-day ban on sale of these pesticides in Yavatmal, Amravati, Akola, Buldhana and Washim districts. The pesticides which are proposed to be banned are manufactured by Indian majors, multinational companies and several smaller players.

The pesticides are: 1. profefonos 40% + cypermethrin 4%; 2. fipronil 40% + imidacloprid 40%; 3. acephate 75%; 4. difenthiron 50%; 5. monochrotophos 36%.

Views will be collected from the director of Central Institute of Cotton Research (CICR) at Nagpur as well as vice-chancellors of Akola’s Punjabrao Deshmukh Krishi Vidyapeeth, Vasantrao Naik Krishi Vidyapeeth (Parbhani) and the Mahama Phule Agriculture Universtity at Rahuri.

In wake of the deaths, a Delhi-based think-tank, Centre for Science and Environment (CSE), has come up with a list of seven pesticides which are used in India but banned in other countries. The CSE list includes monochrotophos which was commonly used by the victims here.

The state ban is proposed to continue for a period of 60 days till the special investigation team (SIT) formed to probe the deaths submits its report.

The SIT has begun collecting data related to pesticide poisoning from concerned departments. The first meeting of the SIT, headed by Divisional Commissioner of Amravati, Piyush Singh, will held on October 23.
Singh said that information is being collected on the post-mortem reports, protocols followed during victims’ treatment and instances of violations of rules in sale of pesticides.

“Views will also be taken from experts. The further course of action will be decided after the first meeting which will be held on Monday,” he said.

The SIT has been mandated to submit its report in three weeks. “The deadline will be met,” said Singh.
The SIT chairman said discussion on whether representatives of the pesticide companies would be summoned by it will be discussed during the first meeting.

“Company officials will be called only if an illegality is found on their part. This can be sales without a proper licence or if the samples tested show any deviation from the quality parameters,” said an independent source.