HC notice over deaths due to pesticides

Source: The Hitavada      Date: 07 Oct 2017 10:21:06

Staff Reporter,

Nagpur bench of Bombay High Court on Friday issued notice to State Agriculture Secretary, Agriculture Commissioner and Yavatmal Collector on a petition against the alleged apathy of administration in 18 deaths caused due to pesticide spray in Yavatmal district. A division bench consisting of Justice Bhushan Dharmadhikari and Justice Swapna Joshi, while issuing notice to respondents on a petition filed by social activists Jammu Anand, Haribhau Gulhane and Ambedkarite Party of India, directed them to file reply by October 30.

The High Court also sought details about preventive steps taken in the aftermath of this shocking deaths and penal action initiated against persons responsible for these deaths. Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis on Tuesday has already ordered a high-level probe to ascertain the causes and initiate remedial measures while announcing compensation to aggrieved families.

According to petitioners, in Yavatmal district alone there are at least 18 deaths and 600 persons undergoing treatment due to inhaling toxic insecticide fumes sprayed mostly in cotton and soya fields. They cited that in 1958 when large scale death occurred in Kerala and Tamil Nadu, then Central Government had constituted a committee which then recommended strong regulation and curb on sale of toxic pesticides and a legislation was enacted in 1968. In Maharashtra, a similar tragedy had occurred in 1963 and regulations were formulated. The regulations stipulated that farmers and farm labours involved in pesticide and insecticide spray should wear special cloths, protective masks and other measures to rule out any ill-effects of the toxic fumes emanating.

The petitioner, while charging the administration with lax enforcement of insecticide act and regulations claimed that due to their apathy the deaths had occurred in Yavatmal district and demanded stern penal action including registration of culpable homicide offence against the officers, directors of insecticide manufacturing company, dealers and retailers and compensation of Rs 20 lakh to family members of deceased persons and Rs 10 lakh each to families of those hospitalised. Adv A K Waghmare appeared for the petitioners while GP Sumant Deopujari waived the notice.