TAMIL NADU

Locker facility for pesticides opened

Health Minister M.R.K.Panneerselvam inaugurating the pesticide storage facility at Kurungudi at Kattumannarkoil on Monday.

Health Minister M.R.K.Panneerselvam inaugurating the pesticide storage facility at Kurungudi at Kattumannarkoil on Monday.   | Photo Credit: — Photo: C Venkatachalapathy

A.V.Ragunathan

CUDDALORE: Health Minister M.R.K.Panneerselvam inaugurated World Health Organization-aided “safety locker facility for pesticides” at Kurungudi and Kandamangalam in Kattumannarkoil taluk near here on Monday.

Designed on the model of safety lockers in banks, the new arrangement would provide community storage facility for pesticides.

Through this centralised set-up — to be managed jointly by Chennai-based non-governmental organizations Sneha and Samarth — farmers can safely store pesticides.

The Minister said that keeping pesticides openly in houses and farms would spell danger as it might induce suicidal tendency among those emotionally disturbed.

Therefore, keeping pesticides away from sight and in safe custody would not only avert suicides but would also help farmers to economise their usage. He lauded the NGOs for having come out with such a concept.

Explaining the salient aspects of the facility, Lakshmi Vijayakumar, Sneha founder, told The Hindu that the pilot project was launched in these villages on an experimental basis for the first time.

Ms. Vijayakumar, who is also a consultant to the WHO on suicide perceptions, further said that varied forms of the experiment were conducted in China and Sri Lanka too. In China, an awareness programme on the harmful effect of pesticides was conducted and in Sri Lanka private lockers were provided with limited success.

However, the centralised community pesticide storage mechanism was evolved only in India in which farmers can store their pesticides free for any length of time. While Kandamangalam has 167 lockers, Kurungudi has 134.

After allotment, one set of keys would be given to the respective farmers and another set would be handled by the NGOs.

She further said that according to statistics, on an average, three lakh people committed suicide a year by consuming pesticides all over the world and the toll in Tamil Nadu during 2007 was 1,640.

According to the National Crime Bureau records, 70-80 per cent of suicides were committed by consuming pesticides. Keeping pesticides in the open would influence those already stressed by various factors.

There would also be accidental consumption of pesticides by children and others.

She hoped that the new facility would provide necessary inputs for research and evaluation.

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