SC directs Centre to submit status report on ban of pesticides

These pesticides have been banned in other countries; but in India, they are being allowed to use & could pose serious health hazards to farmers

By Shagun
Published: Tuesday 24 January 2023
These pesticides have been banned internationally and are found harmful to the health of children. Photo: iStock.

The Supreme Court of India, January 23, directed the Centre to file an updated status report on the actions taken to regulate the ban on hazardous pesticides.

The apex court was hearing a batch of petitions filed for banning 116 pesticides in the country. These pesticides have been banned internationally and are found harmful to the health of children.

The Centre came out with a draft order banning 27 pesticides May 14, 2020. These 27 were part of a set of 66 pesticides that the department of agriculture and cooperation started to review by appointing an expert committee August 9, 2013.

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A bench comprising chief justice DY Chandrachud and judges V Ramasubramanian and JB Pardiwala asked additional solicitor general (ASG) Vikramjit Banerjee to place on record a note about which pesticides have been banned and when.

“The ASG shall file an updated status report in respect of regulatory measures which have been taken by the Union of India for regulating ban on hazardous pesticides,” the bench said.

The plea to ban 66 pesticides was filed in 2017 and another to ban 18 was filed in 2018 by KV Biju, all India organising secretary, Swadeshi Andolan.

The court merged the two pleas, along with a third one filed by activist Kavitha Kuruganti, for banning 106 pesticides, which are still being used at a time when there is much evidence of the success of ecological agriculture practices such as organic farming.

Also read: 64% of world’s arable land at risk of pesticide pollution: Study

Of the 106 pesticides, some were already included in the petition seeking ban of 84 pesticides. The court had merged the three petitions.

These pesticides have been banned in other countries. But in India, they are being allowed to use and could pose serious health hazards to farmers, said advocates Colin Gonsalves and Prashant Bhushan, appearing for the petitioners.

A total of 116 pesticides have been banned worldwide, but most of them are still being used in the country, the lawyers argued.

“The review exercise to ban pesticides was started in 2013. It has been over nine years and the government has not completed the exercise. The government is purposely delaying this,” Biju told Down To Earth.

Meanwhile, Kuruganti said a recommendation by the government’s own regulatory body for banning 27 pesticides under Insecticides Act 1968 has been lying with the agriculture department for around two years and no banning of these deadly chemicals actually took place.

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