‘Ryots deaths, not due to inhalation of pesticide’

Source: The Hitavada      Date: 11 Nov 2017 08:20:25


Staff Reporter,

No pesticides can kill anyone due to inhalation, claimed Rajju Shroff, Chairman of the Crop Care Federation of India (CCFI), who has also made a submission to the SIT and has sent copies to the State Agriculture Minister. He claimed that doctors in Yavatmal GMCH too agreed that the deaths were not due to inhalation. “Doctors have no clinical evidence that pesticides caused the deaths. I challenge them to prove it clinically,” said Shroff. He also denied that the concoction of chemicals would have a different effect. He said all that was just a story.

Addressing a press conference at the premises of Agro-vision in Reshimbagh, Shroff further claimed that the 43 deaths of farmers and farm labourers reported from Yavatmal and other districts of Vidarbha were due to any other reason like consumption of alcohol.CCFI in its petition to Government of Maharashtra has sought an immediate review of the Terms of Reference (TOR) assigned to Special Investigation Team (SIT) appointed to examine and report on recent deaths of farmers in Yavatmal. CCFI has also sought immediate intervention of Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis to ensure that TOR should be free from any bias and adhere to the principles of natural justice, he added.

Stating that doctors in Yavatmal Government Medical College and Hospital too agreed that the deaths were not due to inhalation, Shroff stated that to ensure a science based and politically neutral probe SIT must clinically establish the cause of each farm death in Yavatmal. CCFI has also urged Maharashtra Government to expand the SIT by adding experts in toxicology and medicine who could come up with evidence based conclusions.Shroff has mentioned the findings of S Ganesan, advisor to

CCFI who stated, “Diluted spray solutions used for field spray comprise of 99 percent water and remaining is pesticide. A fraction of pesticide spray drifting and falling on the skin may be harmful but never fatal. Death due to pesticides are evaluated after measuring pesticide residue in blood calculated in PPM (Particles per Million). None of the 43 blood samples analysed by the Government laboratory in Amravati showed pesticide residue. Therefore, claim of deaths due to pesticides in unscientific, illogical and motivated. Singularly aimed at tarnishing Indian agriculture and Maharahstra’s
cotton cultivation.”

Maharashtra with over 40 lakh hectares is the largest cultivator of cotton in India. Yavatmal with nearly five lakh hectares is its most cotton intensive district. Crop protection chemicals (pesticides, insecticides, herbicides and fungicides) are an essential component of modern farming. In 1950, organic era (absence of chemicals) cotton yield was just 88 kg per hectare. Currently with the use of crop protection chemicals cotton yield stands at a handsome 565 kg per hectare. With a population of 34.5 million bales (2016) India is the world’s largest producer of cotton and contributes 26 percent of global cotton output, he stated.“It is fashionable to paint pesticides as the culprit without even granting a hearing. CCFI is willing to participate and make available all data and inputs that may be required for a fair probe by the SIT,” Shroff said.

Claims made by industries, misleading: VNSSM chief Tiwari

Kishor Tiwari, Chairman of Vasantrao Naik Sheti Swawalamban Mission (VNSSM), has raised a strong objection to the claim of Crop Care Federation of India (CCFI) that no pesticide can ever kill anyone due to inhalation. He has dubbed the claims made by CCFI, the official forum of pesticides manufacturers in India, as ‘misleading’.

“The claims of CCFI are completely untrue. As per the reports of World Health Organisation, in case of all Organophosphorus pesticides, self-poisoning is an important clinical problem in rural regions of India. It kills an estimated 2,00,000 people every year in Southeast Asia and Africa. Medical management in such cases is difficult, and fatality rate is very high. Hence, we demand ban on all highly toxic Organophosphorus pesticides in cotton-growing region of Maharashtra,” Tiwari urged the Central Government.

In a press release issued on Friday, VNSSM chief said that he could understand the logic behind argument of CCFI aimed at safeguarding commercial interests of industries. But, he said, truth behind deaths of 43 farmers and farm labourers and illness of more than 800 reported from Yavatmal district in particular and Vidarbha region in general is known to the world. He said that CCFI’s submission to Special Investigation Team (SIT) appointed by State Government was an attempt to influence the investigation.

Tiwari stated that he was confident that no such submission would have any influence on SIT as Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis had clarified that he would take the issue to its logical conclusion so that no innocent farmer or farm labourer got killed due to Organophosphorus pesticides poisoning in future. According to Tiwari, the reports of 43 blood samples analysed by Amravati-based laboratory showed no residues of pesticides due to administration of anti-dote Atropine to patients. However, the said reports were being used to dilute the serious issue of deaths, he alleged. Also, he alleged, none of the companies had provided any protection kit to farmers till the Yavatmal tragedy was reported widely after VNSSM had raised concern over deaths.

Deaths due to inhalation of pesticide fumes: CM

Referring to climate change, Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis claimed that BT cotton that was supposed to be resistant to pests was devoured by bollworm. But a major tragedy unfolded in the region when farmers who took to spraying pesticides on cotton crop died due to inhalation of the fumes. This statement on part of Chief Minister contradicts the claims being made by the pesticides major citing medical and lab reports claiming no residue of poison in the pesticides samples. The State has taken a lesson and would be formulating a new strategy to prevent recurrence of such incidents in future. Newer regulation and storage rules would be farmed to avert repeat of such incident anywhere in the State, Fadnavis stated further.

Chief Minister said that the climate change is going to be an issue of major concern and newer strategies would be needed to be evolved to tackle it. Chief Minister’s statement linking farmers’ death to use of pesticides used on cotton crop came at the inauguration of Agro Vision Fair, on Friday.

 

Cong to corner Govt over pesticide deaths

During the winter session of State Legislature scheduled in the city next month, Prithviraj Chavan said that Congress party would corner the Government over deaths of farmers and farm labourers due to pesticide poisoning. Regarding the stand taken by companies that deaths were not due to pesticides, he asked, “How did the people die then?” No one can deny that people have died and hence this must be probed, he demanded. He blamed the Agriculture Minister for ‘inefficiency’ in functioning. As a result of the ‘inefficient’ Agriculture Minister, even the number of farmers eligible for loan waiver scheme of the Government were not correctly compiled, he alleged.