A large number of vegetables and fruits sold across the Capital contain dangerous pesticides that can cause serious neurological problems, kidney damage, skin diseases and cancer, a report submitted before the Delhi High Court said.
The report submitted by amicus curiae Sanjay Jain said in a number of vegetables and edible items pesticides residues were found to be beyond permissible limits.
The report claimed that pesticides component such as chlordane, endrin, heptachlor, ethyl and parathion are used in several vegetables which have the potential to cause serious health problems.
Alarmed over the report, the high court on Wednesday issued notices to the Central and Delhi government saying that the issue required a “pan-India” concerted effort.
A bench of Chief Justice NV Ramana and justice Rajiv Sahai Endlaw expressed concern, saying: “India is not a country to allow such type of chemicals to be used in vegetables and fruits. Central government has to make the effort. It has to be pan-India effort.”
Jain submitted that the issue required efforts from all stakeholders including various government departments. Jain further submitted that there was no policy in place to work out a strong prosecution regime to ensure that there are no violations of the Insecticides Act.
The HC had acted suo motu on a report by NGO Consumer Voice, which had in 2010 found that 35 varieties of vegetables and fruits, picked from Delhi markets and tested for pesticide content, had toxins beyond the permissible limits.
The bench on Wednesday issued notices to department of agriculture and co-operation, department of agriculture research and education, department of chemicals and petro-chemical, department of bio-technology, ministry of environment and forest, food safety and standards authority, and department of food safety. It will next hear the case on March 5 next.
During the hearing, the Delhi government submitted that the Delhi Agriculture Marketing Board found no pesticides residues beyond permissible limit on 1,134 samples reviewed between January 2013 and January 2014.
Jain, however, contended that the sample size was very small and did not reflect the actual figures. He further said the current regulatory mechanism in force under the Insecticide Act, prescribed maximum residue limit for only 149 pesticides.