The Delhi High Court on Tuesday directed a court-appointed experts committee headed by eminent agricultural scientist MS Swaminathan to frame by May 15 guidelines to check presence of pesticide residues in fruit and vegetables sold in markets in the city.
The direction came after Delhi government counsel Meera Bhatia told that the draft guidelines was ready and it awaited vetting 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 of 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, Union agriculture ministry official Vipin Bhatnagar and senior advocate VK Rao.
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 petitioner in the court said the amount of pesticides in fruits and vegetables in India, especially those sold in Delhi markets 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 vegetables sold here. They included a central nervous system toxin endrin which causes nausea and dizziness and heptachlor that can damage the liver and decrease fertility.