CHENNAI : With the increasing number of farmer deaths due to pesticide poisoning, the Union Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare has notified Pesticides (Prohibition) Order, 2018 under which use of 18 pesticides will be banned. Of the total 18, 11 pesticides are banned with immediate effect and six will face the axe from December, 2020 and one pesticide Trifluralin, which is widely used as herbicide, is allowed only in wheat. The Centre has taken the decision following Anupam Verma committee, set up to review the continued use of 66 pesticides that have been banned/restricted for use in farming in other countries, found that these 18 pesticides pose risk to humans and animals.
Though the Verma committee was constituted in 2013 and its report submitted to the Centre on December 9, 2015, little action was initiated thereafter. A Registration Committee was constituted under the Insecticides Act, 1968 to deliberate on the expert committee’s report. A draft order was notified by the Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare on December 15, 2016 inviting public comments and it took nearly two years for the Centre to impose the ban.
However, activist groups such as Alliance for Sustainable and Holistic Agriculture (ASHA) and Safe Food Alliance, who have petitioned the Supreme Court, say it’s too little and too late. The Centre has left out several most problematic pesticides such as Monocrotophos, which have created havoc in Maharastra and Tamil Nadu.The casualty figures of Maharashtra shared by the Agriculture Ministry in the Lok Sabha earlier this year, show that pesticide poisoning has caused 272 deaths in the last four years. In many cases, Monocrotophos, which is banned in 60 countries and classified as Class 1b (highly hazardous) by the WHO, is to be blamed and even in Tamil Nadu last year nine farmers died in the Perambalur-Ariyalur belt.
Chennai-based farm activist Ananthoo, who is also the coordinator of the Safe Food Alliance and one of the three petitioners in an appeal before the Supreme Court seeking total ban on use of pesticides in farming, told Express that this ban was only an eyewash. “Our analysis shows there are 104 pesticides, which are banned/restricted in other countries and in use in India. The Verma committee reviewed only 66 of them. Banning 18 products alone is just not enough. In fact, there are 18 class-1 pesticides allowed to be used in India, of which the Verma committee reviewed only 11. Our contention is every pesticide is a poison and the government should give a big push for pesticide-free farming,” he said.
Kavitha Kuruganti of ASHA alleged that some of these 18 pesticides have already lost their market significance due to the emergence of better alternatives. For instance, Benomyl, a fungicide, has zero consumption in India as per the statistics available with the Directorate of Plan Protection, Quarantine and Storage (PPQS). “So, what is the point in banning products that don’t have demand. Even this ban has come only after the Supreme Court has asked the government to expedite within three months in an order pronounced in March,” she said.
Benomyl, Carbaryl, Diazinon, Fenarimol, Fenthion, Linuron, Methoxy Ethyl Mercury Chloride, Methyl Parathion, Sodium Cyanide, Thiometon, Tridemorph, Trifluralin
Implication: Registrations, import, manufacture, formulation, transport and sale prohibited banned from date of publication of Presticides (Prohibition) Order
Ban from December 31, 2020
Alachlor, Dichlorvos, Phorate, Phosphamidon, Triazophos, Trichlorfon
No new certificate of registration to manufacture shall be issued
No person shall import, manufacture or formulate Dichlorvos with from Jan, 2019.
State government to act
Every govt shall take steps for implementation of order