Punjab MPs worried over cancer cases


Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar denies any link with fertilizers.

Union Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar on Tuesday told the Lok Sabha that there was no scientific evidence to link the use of fertilizers and pesticides with cancer.

The Minister’s reply came after two Punjab MPs, Ravneet Singh Bittu (Congress) and Bhagwant Mann (Aam Admi Party), spoke of an alarming rise in cases of cancer in the State’s Malwa region because of the excessive use of fertilizers.

The Congress MP said so many patients from Punjab were travelling to Bikaner by train to get themselves treated for cancer that the train had come to be known as the “cancer train”.

Almost equal

The Minister said the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) put the incidence of cancer in Punjab to 100-110 for every 1,00,000 individuals, which was almost equal to the national average.

“The Punjab government has also reported that the consumption of fertilizer has no link with prevalence of cancer in Punjab,” he said.

Mr. Tomar asked the Punjab government to join the Ayushman Bharat central health insurance scheme under which free cancer treatment up to ₹5 lakh could be availed.

Food Processing Minister Harsimrat Kaur Badal, who represents the Bhatinda Lok Sabha constituency, alleged that the Punjab government had stopped funding support to a multi-specialty hospital in the State.

Bengal issues

The Lok Sabha proceedings witnessed sharp exchanges between the Trinamool and BJP members from West Bengal once again.

During Zero Hour, BJP MP Locket Chatterjee accused Trinamool leaders in Bengal of taking “cut money” from the people to get their work done.

This immediately triggered a protest by the Trinamool members, with Sudip Bandyopadhyay telling Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla that the purpose of Zero Hour would become “zero” if State government issues were repeatedly raised in Parliament.

The Trinamool’s Mahua Moitra observed that Parliament was being turned into a forum to discuss the law and order situation in West Bengal when violence happened in other States as well.

Quoting poet Akbar Allahabadi, she said “Hum aah bhi karte hain to ho jaate hain badnaam, vo qatl bhi karte hain to charcha nahin hota (Even if I sigh, I get infamous, while even if they commit murder, there is no discussion)”.

BJP’s Bengal chief Dilip Ghosh countered by alleging that more than 150 party workers had been injured in clashes and even Lok Sabha members were not being spared in Bengal.

Lynchings in spotlight

Raising the issue of incidents of lynching that had been reported from States like Jharkhand, Samajwadi Party (SP) member Shafiqur Rahman Barq said, “We have to decide how Muslims would live in this country”.

The remark sparked an angry response from BJP members who started countering Mr. Barq, in turn prompting all Opposition MPs to stand in solidarity with the SP MP.

At this point, Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla intervened and suggested that members give a separate notice for a discussion on the subject.

‘States can jail mill owners’

Union Minister of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution Ram Vilas Paswan apprised the Lok Sabha of the outstanding dues to sugar cane farmers in the sugarcane season.

“In the current season, there was an outstanding of ₹85,355 crore, of which ₹67,706 crore has already been paid to the farmers. We have been trying to ensure that by the end of the year, most of the outstanding is cleared. If that does not happen, then the State governments have full power to take action against the mill owners and put them behind bars,” Mr. Paswan said during Question Hour.

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Printable version | Jan 18, 2020 3:18:12 PM |

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