Chattisgarh Government on Thursday destroyed a field near capital city of Raipur, where field trials of GM rice were being done and has questioned the Centre on allowing trails without informing the state government.
Secretary Agriculture Pankaj Diwedi told HT on Friday that the field trails were allowed by the Ministry of Environment and Forests in a 'casual' manner. "They should have written a letter to us informing that the state has been selected for the trails. Moreover, the company took no permission from us even though agriculture is on the concurrent list of the Constitution," he said. An inquiry to look into the violations has also been ordered and it will submit its report by Monday.
On Thursday, a government team led by Agriculture Minister Nankiram Kawar got the field destroyed where the trails were being conducted. The farm is owned by Jagdishlal Arora and is within the city limits of Raipur. "It is very strange that a farm within city limits was chosen instead of proper agriculture land. The plot is very close to human and animal habitat," Diwedi said.
The government action was the fallout of complaints by NGOs and agriculture groups alleging violation of norms while planting GM rice. Moreover, the regional agriculture scientists also had no knowledge about the trails being conducted there.
According to Kavita Karunganti of the Centre for Sustainable Agriculture, the trials were being conducted in violation of the norms and nobody knows whether safety precautions were adopted before planning the seeds. The GM rice seeds had been taken away by the company, she said. The local municipal body or panchayat was not informed about the trials, a mandatory requirement under Genetic Engineering guidelines of MoEF.
The campaign against GM rice trials are limited to Chattisgarh. Earlier, farmer groups had destroyed GM rice crops in Uttar Pradesh and Haryana claiming that the farmer was not informed about the trials. Even the rice exporters association has called the government to defer GM rice crop trials citing the US experience where large consignments of US rice was sent back by European Union and Japan, following detection of contamination.