PIL in high court to check pesticide use

A public interest litigation (PIL) filed in Gauhati High Court on Monday sought the court's intervention to restrict/ban excessive use of pesticides in Assam, stating that this results in contamination of food items and cause serious ailments like cancer.

By SUMIR KARMAKAR in Guwahati
  • Published 20.03.18
  •  
TOXIC FOOD

Guwahati: A public interest litigation (PIL) filed in Gauhati High Court on Monday sought the court's intervention to restrict/ban excessive use of pesticides in Assam, stating that this results in contamination of food items and cause serious ailments like cancer.

Seema Bhuyan, a young lawyer based here filed the PIL, which was accepted by the high court. It also called for the promotion of organic cultivation in the state.

The PIL said farmers are using different hazardous pesticides excessively.

This comes months after Bhutan last year imposed restrictions on the entry of vegetables grown in Assam, citing an excessive use of pesticides.

Bhuyan called for the high court's directive to the state government for immediate steps to form a regulatory body or an expert committee and enforcement body to supervise and monitor the use of chemical pesticides and devise a mechanism for stringent checks of the agricultural products before distribution to vendors. It also sought laboratories in all districts to test pesticide content in products.

The petitioner enclosed copies of various scientific findings, media reports and other documents that highlights harmful impacts of excessive use of pesticides on human health, animals, fish, environment and tea cultivation in Assam.

"In scientific studies conducted in Assam, it was reported that the farmers who spray the pesticides and their family members have shown pesticide intoxication like excessive sweating/vomiting, loss of appetite, indigestion, high heart rate, hypertension, low mental development and increased risk during pregnancy, including miscarriages and stillbirths among women. The use of pesticides was found to be closely associated with different types of cancer in the Northeast like lung, throat, leukaemia, stomach cancer and childhood-opthalmic malignancy. Pesticides were found to be responsible for increased level of DNA damage among farmers," it said.

The PIL named the Union ministry of agriculture and farmers welfare, Assam government and the state agriculture department as the respondents to the issue.

The petitioner said the high court on Monday issued notices to the respondents seeking their replies within four weeks.