The Delhi high court-constituted expert committee on Wednesday put imported exotic fruits under the pesticide watch along with locally-grown fruits and vegetables. It also recommended toughening of import norms for such fruits.
"No such consignment be allowed to enter the country without pre-dispatch pesticide testing report by the exporter. Samples of imported fruits and vegetables should be drawn by plant quarantine stations at international arrival points and monitored for the presence of pesticide residues," said a report filed in the court by the panel headed by Sandhya Kulshreshta, additional deputy DG in the health ministry.
The bench headed by chief justice D Murugesan is hearing a petition filed by an NGO Consumer Voice, seeking urgent corrective steps to rid vegetables and fruits sold in the Capital's market of harmful pesiticides. The NGO claimed that the amount of pesticides in fruits and vegetables in India, and especially those sold in Delhi markets, were as much as 750 times the European standards. It said they were a toxic cocktail of pesticides capable of causing headache, cancer, heart disease, infertility and pose a risk to the nervous system and liver.
The court had on May 15 ordered surprise checks of wholesale and retail markets and test of the samples. The expert committee said results of tests should be posted on the website of the Delhi government's food department along with the name of the market.
A separate court panel of lawyers had in May 2012 visited markets in Kotla, Mayur Vihar, Sarojini Nagar, INA, Defence Colony, Vasant Vihar and Lodhi Estate. "We found that pesticides, toxic colours and hormones are being used by farmers and traders to speed up growth, ripen and improve colour," said lawyer Meera Bhatia, a member of the panel and the lawyer for the centre.