The Delhi High Court on Tuesday directed a court-appointed experts committee headed by eminent agricultural scientist MS Swaminathan to frame guidelines to check the presence of pesticide residues in fruits and vegetables sold in markets in the city.
The high court has set May 15 as the deadline to frame the guidelines.
The direction came after Delhi government counsel Meera Bhatia said that the draft guidelines were ready and it awaited approval by Swaminathan, entrusted the task by the court.
The court also accepted a plea of pesticide manufacturers seeking a direction to the panel to consider their suggestions while framing the guidelines.
The court had in May 2012 formed a committee headed by union agriculture ministry’s joint director Sarita Bhalla and comprising Sandhya Kulshreshta, secretary of the Central Insecticide Board, Food Safety and Standards Authority of India director Dhir Singh, scientist NK Sharma, Delhi government’s food analyst SM Bhardwaj and Union agriculture ministry official Vipin Bhatnagar.
The move came after some NGOs submitted survey reports that vegetables and fruits sold in the city’s markets contain poisons capable of causing cancer and harming the nervous system and liver.
Later, a court-ordered survey and surprise checks on traders too found that 35 types of vegetables and fruits sold in various wholesale and retail markets in the city contained pesticides beyond permissible limits.
NGO Consumer Voice, one of the petitioners in court said the amount of pesticides in fruits and vegetables in India, was as much as 750 times the European standards.
The NGO claimed that of the five internationally banned pesticides, four were found to be common in India.