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NHRC seeks action taken report on pesticide deaths

A fact-finding team investigated into the deaths and several instances of hospitalisations after exposure to pesticides in Perambalur, Ariyalur, Salem and Cuddalore districts.

A fact-finding team investigated into the deaths and several instances of hospitalisations after exposure to pesticides in Perambalur, Ariyalur, Salem and Cuddalore districts.  

TN has delayed submission of report though notice was received last month: activists

The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) sought an action taken report from the Tamil Nadu government following a spate of pesticide poisoning deaths reported from the State in October and November last year.

Acting upon the complaint of an activist who was part of a fact-finding team that investigated into the deaths and several instances of hospitalisations after exposure to pesticides in Perambalur, Ariyalur, Salem and Cuddalore districts of Tamil Nadu, the Commission issued a notice last month demanding the State government to submit a report on the actions undertaken to address the problem.

However, response from the concerned authorities is still awaited as per the status displayed on the NHRC website.

In the NHRC complaint, activist V.M. Parthasarathy alleged that no concrete preventive measures had been put in place by the government, and no ex-gratia relief provided to the affected. Earlier, the fact-finding team that had met with the affected families and concerned government officials presented evidence to show that more than 500 hospitalisations and 9 deaths have taken place in Tamil Nadu due to pesticide poisoning.

“Subsequent to our fact-finding visit to meet affected families and other stakeholders last, there have been further reports of poisonings. This is alarming,” Mr. Parthasarathy said.

‘No fresh licences’

NHRC’s action comes at a time when the Punjab government has announced a ban on monocrotophos as well as 19 other pesticides. The State government of Punjab has also put out orders to stop issuing fresh licenses for these pesticides, since the State can only issue a ban for 60 days. “If Punjab, which has one of the most intensive use of pesticides in all of India, can take up such progressive measures, there is no reason why Tamil Nadu government cannot issue similar orders”, said K. Saravanan of PUCL.

Responding to queries from The Hindu , V. Dhakshinamoorthy, Director of Agriculture, said that he was unaware of the NHRC notice but his department had convened a meeting soon after the deaths were reported to give detailed guidelines on do’s and don’ts of using pesticides to field-level agriculture officials.

“We have also organised meetings with manufacturers and dealers of pesticides asking them not to sell hazardous pesticides to farmers,” he said.

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