harmful pesticides

Human rights body says government’s callous attitude led to pesticide deaths in Maharashtra

It said the farmers’ right to life and livelihood was violated, as most of them relied on the government to understand how to use pesticides safely.

The National Human Rights Commission on Monday asked the Centre and the Maharashtra government to file reports on the pesticide poisoning that is believed to have killed at least 32 farmers in the state so far, PTI reported.

The human rights body said the farmers’ right to life and livelihood was violated, as most of them were not literate enough to understand how to use pesticides safely, and relied on government agencies. The farmers fell prey to the “callous and negligent” attitude of the government departments, the commission said.

In a notice to the Maharashtra chief secretary, the commission said the affected farmers should be given the best medical treatment at no cost. The notice asks the chief secretary to inform the commission about the action taken against guilty officers. The commission also wants details of the compensation amount paid to the victims.

Last week, the state cabinet decided to provide Rs 2 lakh as compensation to the families of the dead farmers. The highest toll was in the Yavatmal district, where 19 farmers died. Deaths were also being registered in Akola, Amravati, Buldana, Nagpur and Bhandara, but the government is yet to specify the number.

Action against three firms

The Maharashtra government registered a police complaint against three firms and the Krishi Seva Kendras or agro-input centres for selling pesticides not recommended for the region, the Hindustan Times reported. “Pesticides that were not recommended or the ones that were not meant for the crop were distributed and used,” the newspaper quoted state Agriculture Minister Pandurang Fundkar as saying.

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