Acting on the advice of an expert committee, the Centre has banned the use of 12 pesticides with immediate effect and issued orders for banning six others from December 31, 2020, as their use is hazardous for humans and animals.
The expert committee, constituted in July 2013, had reviewed the use of a total of 66 pesticides and submitted its report to the agriculture ministry two years later, recommending banning 18 of them. Incidentally, all the 66 pesticides are banned, restricted or withdrawn in one or more countries across the globe but continued to be used in India.
The government then took more than two-and-a-half years to finally act on the recommendation of the committee and notified the ban on those 18 pesticides on August 8.
The notification says that no person shall manufacture, import, formulate, transport, sell and use any of those 12 pesticides from the date of publication of the order.
It also specified that action would be taken under the Insecticides Act, 1968 against any person who fails to return ‘certificate of registration’ for manufacture, import, formulate, transport and sell these pesticides within three months.
In case of six others, the government has stopped issuing the new certificate of registration to manufacture them with immediate effect and decided to disallow their import, manufacture, and formulation from January 1 next year.
Most of these pesticides were found to be highly toxic to honey bees, birds, and aquatic lives. These pesticides were also found to contaminate water bodies and underground water, causing health hazards to humans and animals.
Besides recommending the ban, the committee chaired by former national professor of the Indian Agricultural Research Institute, Anupam Verma, had suggested continued use of 18 pesticides and review of the use of 27 other pesticides other pesticides after completion of certain technical studies. It means 45 out of 66 pesticides will continue to be used in the country even if these are banned, restricted or withdrawn in other countries.
“The Committee actually took the easy way out when it recommended only 18 pesticides for ban/phase out. It left out deadly pesticides like Monocrotophos and had asked the industry to come up with safety data on these pesticides,” said farm activist Kavitha Kuruganti.
Kuruganti, lead petitioner on the issue in Supreme Court, said, “You will see that several of these banned pesticides were in any case on their way out, and those are not products on which industry was making its money.”
She said, “The Anupam Verma Committee was given a list of 66 pesticides whereas our count of “bannable” pesticides is 104 (those that have been banned or severely restricted elsewhere but continued in India). An illustration for this is Glyphosate which does not feature in that 66 pesticides.”
Credit: Times Of India