Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnvais on Tuesday ordered an investigation into the deaths of at least 18 farmers in Yavatmal district who are believed to have died after inhaling toxic insecticide fumes sprayed in farms, IANS reported. At least 600 people have been treated in hospitals in and around Yavatmal.

Fadnavis announced a compensation of Rs 2 lakh to the families of the deceased. He said the investigation will be led by the additional chief secretary, home.

The chief minister also said it is mandatory for pesticide companies to distribute protective kits with the products to avoid similar incidents in the future. The government will also conduct awareness drives among the farmers, he added.

Farmer organisations have accused the Maharashtra government of discriminating against the farmers as the relief amount was less than the Rs 10 lakh compensation given to those who died in the recent stampede in Mumbai. Kishore Tiwari, chairman of Vasantrao Naik Shetkari Swavalamban Mission demanded the victims’ families be given Rs 5 lakh each, IANS reported.

An investigation team had found that the farmers had spent eight hours to 10 hours everyday without food or water, Tiwari said. The farmers took water and smoke breaks without washing hands and exposed their bodies to the toxic fumes, he said.

“Indiscriminate and faulty use of pesticides along with wrong combinations, direct and extended exposure for long hours without protective gear for days are some of the apparent reasons why the farmers lost their lives in recent weeks,” Tiwari told the news agency.