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by Kavitha

ACTIVISTS SLAM TAMIL NADU GOVT’S LACK OF ACTION ON PESTICIDE POISONINGS: “CITIZENS’ RIGHT TO LIFE BEING VIOLATED BY WILFUL CONTINUATION OF DEADLY PESTICIDES”

5:06 pm in News by Kavitha

Chennai, December 7th 2017: A fact finding team that investigated the recent spate of pesticide poisonings in Perambalur and Ariyalur districts of Tamil Nadu slammed the state government for its inaction so far despite hundreds of farmers and farm workers being affected. It is estimated that at least 200 to 300 persons have been hospitalised in the past two months after exposure to deadly pesticides, and at least six deaths have occurred, in 3 districts of Tamil Nadu. Reports from other districts are emerging now. However, no ex-gratia relief to the affected, nor concrete preventive measures have been put in place by the government. “This situation is highly preventable and no pesticide poisonings should have occurred at all, if the government had ensured that bannable pesticides were stopped from being sold and used, and if ecological alternatives were taught to farmers for crop protection”, said the team members who presented their findings to the media today.

 

The fact finding team met with affected families and also met with concerned government officials in its visit to Perambalur and Ariyalur districts on November 4th, 5th and 6th 2017. Detailed documentation of 5 death cases, and 5 other cases where pesticide poisoning-affected persons were hospitalised and discharged after treatment was taken up by this 10-member team consisting of Kavitha Kuruganti, ASHA (Alliance for Sustainable & Holistic Agriculture); Ananthoo and Parthasarathy, Safe Food Alliance; K. Balakrishnan, Swaraj Abhiyan; Saravanan, PUCL (People’s Union for Civil Liberties); Ramesh Karuppaiya, Thamizh Kadu; Swaminathan, Karunganni Cotton Growers’ Group; S Nandakumar, Ullatchi Ungalatchi; N Ganesan and V Vetrivel, Barefoot Academy of Governance.

 

“The Right to Life of desperate farm workers and farmers is being violated systemically because the government has failed to anticipate a highly preventable tragedy. We find that right now, the attempt seems to be to discount the number of deaths and attribute other reasons to the fatalities seen so far. This is highly unacceptable. Many families have been rendered support-less due to these occupational poisonings. Hundreds of others have incurred unaffordable expenses on medical care including in private hospitals due to such poisoning. We demand that the state government take responsibility for this, and immediately pay an ex-gratia amount of at least 10 lakh rupees for families where a death took place, and 2 lakh rupees where a person has been hospitalised. The government should also recover these amounts from the pesticides industry”, said the team.

 

The team demanded immediate action from the government on numerous fronts. There has to be an immediate and comprehensive assessment of the prevalence and intensity of the problem of pesticide poisonings in all districts, to begin with, rather than ignore the issue. Massive awareness campaigns on the ill effects of pesticides, symptoms of pesticide poisonings as well as ecological alternatives to be adopted by farmers should be run by the government. The treatment protocols being adopted for pesticides-affected patients have to be reviewed, especially in the case of government hospitals. The impact of Bt / GM technology as well as pesticides has to be assessed comprehensively by including all concerned experts. To prevent recurrence of the problem, licenses for sales of all ‘bannable’ pesticides should be revoked immediately.

 

“Stopping of sales licenses on deadly pesticides has been done by neighboring state government, Kerala. Why can’t Tamil Nadu do the same?”, demanded the activists. They also wanted accountability to be fixed on pesticides manufacturers, sellers as well as public authorities who failed to discharge their duties responsibly.

 

The fact finding report captures the potential that some sustainable alternatives have, in terms of preventive action by the government. Farmers who are opting for native species of cotton like Karunganni have very little pest and disease problems on their crop, and therefore, do not have to contend with the negative impacts of pesticides or Bt technology. Similarly, opting for millet cropping systems instead of cotton cultivation has proven to be more profitable and environment friendly for many farmers. “These experiences exist within Perambalur and it is high time that the government paid attention to the potential that exists here, and promote these alternatives on a large scale”, said members of the fact finding team.

 

Photos from the fact finding visit are available at: https://drive.google.com/open?id=12RuQnKp7R2L37RUAUqHOygaK_o7kwWJw

For more information, contact:

 

1.       Ananthasayanan: 9444166779;

2.       Saravanan: 9751237734

Full report downloadable here.

by Kavitha

INDIAN FARMERS’ LIVES COME CHEAP FOR GOVERNMENTS & INDUSTRY FACT-FINDING REPORT ON PESTICIDE POISONINGS IN YAVATMAL DISTRICT, MAHARASHTRA

10:21 am in News by Kavitha

The full fact finding report can be downloaded here: http://indiaforsafefood.in/wp-content/uploads/2016/09/pesticidepoisoning-yavatmal-FFT-report-oct12-2017.pdf

The above is the report of a fact finding team that tried to probe further into the recent unfortunate and preventable episode of dozens of deaths and hundreds of hospitalisations of farmers(includes farm workers) in Vidarbha region of Maharashtra due to PESTICIDE POISONING. This report is mainly from the team’s field visit to Yavatmal and it appears that the situation seen there can be surmised to some extent for the situation in other districts too.


Fact-finding visit dates: 9th and 10th October 2017


Team Members: Kavitha Kuruganti; Rahul Bole; Swati Sagare; Shankar Amilkanthavar; Karthikeyan Hemalatha (freelance writer); Sahebrao Namdevrao Parode. Alliance for Sustainable & Holistic Agriculture (ASHA), Dharamitra, Chetna Organic and Nagpur Beejotsav Group were the groups/organisations involved in taking up this fact-finding visit.


Visit covered:

  • Kalamb and Aarni blocks of Yavatmal district, to meet with families of 3 dead victims of pesticide poisonings and 3 hospitalised cases. (Cases of death: Gajanan Fulmali of Sawargaon village, Kalamb; Devidas Madavi of Kalamb; Deepak Shamrao Madavi of Sendhursani village, Aarni block. Cases of hospitalisations, after discharge: Shrikant Nikhare, Mangesh Shravan Thakre and Manoj Pundlikrao Sarade).
  • Kalamb Police Station
  • Two pesticide dealers (one in Yavatmal – Sudhir bhau Sarode of Metikheda Krishi Sewa Kendra and another in Jawada – Suresh Jillewar of Balaji Krishi Kendra)
  • Vasantrao Naik Medical College & Hospital, Yavatmal (specifically, the Head of the Department of Medicine Dr B S Yelke)
  • Agriculture Department officials, incl. R S Patil, Deputy Director.

 

 

OUR CONCLUSIONS & DEMANDS

 

It appears that the lives of farm workers and farmers are of no value at all in this country. Their Right to Life (and Livelihood), which is a fundamental right guaranteed by the Constitution of India is being violated routinely with no accountability fixed on the government and concerned agencies for such violation.

 

No surveillance and data systems exist, including hospital based surveillance, to monitor pesticide poisonings, that too separately for occupational poisoning (inhalation), accidental poisoning and intentional poisoning (ingestion by oral route).

 

It is worth noting that this is not the first time that such an episode is unfolding with regard to pesticide poisoning, and this seems to be a recurring feature that has been ignored callously by the administration.

 

There is a systemic failure in anticipating the situation and controlling a highly preventable and unconscionable situation. There is total lack of coordination and communication between different departments that should have acted to prevent such poisonings. There is also a pathetic lack of adoption of frontier, post-modern science of pest management which shuns the use of hazardous technologies and adopts an agro-ecological approach.

 

It is also clear that the failure to prevent this situation lies at all levels of the government, including with the Government of India for having continued with bannable pesticides.

 

Farmers and their use of hazardous technologies is getting more and more desperate in the country – this is apparent with pesticides and GM seeds and the rampant misuse, with regulators and others turning a blind eye to the developing/unfolding problem.

 

It is clear that end use regulation is not going to be possible since there is no existing mechanism or possible mechanism by which the use of the pesticide by the buyer, after the product leaves the retailer, can be monitored and regulated.

 

The complacency that was apparent everywhere with dangerous mixtures of pesticides is clearly alarming.

 

While we are discussing acute pesticide poisoning at this point of time, the fact finding team can clearly anticipate chronic health and environmental problems that are bound to emerge sooner or later, especially with the illegal use of herbicide tolerant GM cotton.


Given all the above, the fact finding team demands the following:

  1. A full survey needs to be taken up by the Government of all the poisoning cases (not just of death), and past data should also be analysed by culling out inhalation poisoning cases in the hospital records of Vidarbha districts. This should help the government to understand the scale of the problem, the chemicals involved, the particular conditions which caused this unfortunate episode to unfold etc.
  2. This should also be used to extend full and free medical treatment for all the affected persons, as well as comprehensive rehabilitation of the families as per the need.
  3. Further, data systems should be created to capture the problem in all its dimensions at least from now on.
  4. Government of India should ban immediately all those pesticides that are implicated in the poisoning cases here, as well as those pesticides that have been banned or elsewhere, to begin with. There are no scientific or moral grounds on which this cannot, or will not be done.
  5. Government of Maharashtra should immediately revoke licenses of sales of these pesticides in the state, like Kerala government has done, without waiting for a ban decision from the government of India. This is very much possible at the state government level.
  6. Government of Maharashtra should immediately invest on, and promote large scale agro-ecological approaches to pest management, and lend the required capacities and confidence to farmers to adopt the same. It should take the active help of practising organic farmers in the state and elsewhere for the same.

7. Government of Maharashtra should immediately enhance the ex-gratia amount to Rs. 10 lakhs at least per family which had lost a breadwinner to pesticide poisoning, and also rehabilitate all the affected. It should reimburse full treatment costs for all affected. These monies should subsequently be collected from the pesticide companies for having caused the problem in the first instance.

 


[1] Some photos from the fact finding visit are available at: https://photos.app.goo.gl/upvOzhAdnOvRXOXJ2

[2]  as per India’s National Policy for Farmers 2007, this term includes Farm Workers