Tamil Nadu to seek Centre’s permanent ban on six pesticides for suicide prevention, says Health Minister

Tamil Nadu Health Minister Ma. Subramanian said the aim was to cut down access to the hazardous chemicals for people with suicidal tendencies; a ban on cow dung powder is also in the works

Updated - December 13, 2022 06:34 pm IST

Published - December 13, 2022 04:08 pm IST - CHENNAI

A farmer spraying pesticide containing monocrotophos on a paddy field. File photograph used for representational purposes only

A farmer spraying pesticide containing monocrotophos on a paddy field. File photograph used for representational purposes only | Photo Credit: Jayanta Dey

With the State government issuing an order banning six hazardous pesticides for a period of 60 days to curb access to means of suicide, Health Minister Ma. Subramanian on Tuesday said the Department of Agriculture will seek a permanent ban on the pesticides from the Union government.

The Minister said that the three per cent yellow phosphorus (phosphorus paste) which is used as a rodenticide is being banned permanently in the State. “This paste is highly hazardous and toxic.

A government order has been issued banning it permanently. On accepting the Health Department’s demand, the Agriculture Department has banned the manufacture, wholesale and retail sale and transportation of rodenticides with three per cent yellow phosphorus paste in Tamil Nadu as well as in online sales,” he told reporters.

The Agriculture Department has banned six hazardous pesticides: Monocrotophos, Profenophos, Acephate, Profenofos + Cypermethrin, Chlorpyrifos + Cypermethrin and Chlorpyrifos, he said, adding: “The ban is for 60 days, while there is a provision allowing an extension by another 30 days. A permanent ban can be issued by the Union government. With the Health Department emphasising this, the Agriculture Department will seek a permanent ban from the Union government.”

During the 90-day period, a field-level assessment on the effect of the ban will be taken up, and the results communicated to the Union government, he added.

‘Aim is to cut down access’

These products were easily available and displayed in the open in shops, thereby providing easy access for people with suicidal tendencies, the Minister noted. “Our aim is to cut down this access. This decision was arrived at after several analyses taken up by the Agriculture Department,” he added.

The Minister said that the Agriculture Department will monitor the sale of the banned pesticides in agricultural outlets, while the Health Department’s drug control department will work along with them. He added that the details of the products banned in the State would be communicated to e-commerce platforms as well, to prevent online sales.

‘Ban on cow dung powder soon’

The Minister said the Department has also sought a ban on cow dung powder. “The Industries Department is looking into this. A G.O. banning cow dung powder will be issued soon,” he said.

He said that it was worrying that there were a total of 16,883 deaths by suicides in 2020 in the State. The Department was taking various awareness initiatives to prevent suicides. For students of government medical colleges, Manam, an initiative to provide assistance as well as to train them, was launched in Chennai recently. Soon, this initiative will be launched in all 36 government medical colleges, the Minister said.

(Assistance for overcoming suicidal thoughts is available on the State’s health helpline 104, TeleMANAS 14416 and Sneha’s suicide prevention helpline 044-24640050)

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