After 32 deaths, Maharashtra lists dos and don’ts for farmers while spraying pesticides
The state, however, hasn’t taken any responsibility for the safety of farmers, putting the onus entirely on farm owners.mumbai Updated: Oct 13, 2017 14:19 IST
After 32 farmers from Maharashtra’s Vidarbha lost their lives to pesticide poisoning, the state government recently issued a 20-point advisory for farmers and local authorities on the precautionary measures to be taken while spraying the chemical on the crop.
The state, however, hasn’t taken any responsibility for the safety of farmers, putting the onus entirely on farm owners. A case in point is the explanation on protective gear in the advisory. It states it is the duty of the farm owner to provide protective gear such as masks and gloves to farm labourers appointed for the task.
The advisory, issued by the state agriculture and animal husbandry, dairy development, fisheries department, asks farmers to keep first aid box in the farm to give immediate treatment to the affected person, and move him to the nearest hospital at the earliest.
The farmers have been asked to spray pesticides in the morning, as it is not very windy. Farmers have been asked to refrain from spraying chemicals against the flow of the wind to reduce the chances of inhalation.
“Ensure no one is standing in the vicinity at the time of spraying the pesticide. Follow the instructions given by the pesticide manufacturing company on its packaging. Take the exact amount of water to mix the pesticides. Using less water than required makes the pesticide dangerous for both the crops and the person spraying it. Wash hands and face immediately after spraying the chemical and take a bath. Keep the pesticides away from children and report cases of poisoning to the local authorities — police, tehsildar or agriculture department officials,” the advisory states.
The authorities, meanwhile, have been asked to undertake awareness drives to make farmers aware of the precautions to be taken and the harm that can be caused. The government has directed the designated officials in every district to send monthly reports on pesticide poisoning to the higher authorities. Local agriculture department officials have been asked to propose strict action and monitor cases where a pesticide is found to be circulated illegally.
In the past two months, 32 farmers and farm labourers have died owing to exposure to toxic pesticides. Chief minister Devendra Fadnavis on Tuesday ordered a probe by special investigation team (SIT) into the deaths of farmers. A case of culpable homicide will be registered against the pesticide manufacturers and dealers for circulating non-certified pesticides, he had said.
The government has registered a case against Gharda Chemicals Ltd. for selling a non-recommended pesticide, according to agriculture minister Pandurang Fundkar. The state government has also suspended the agriculture officer of Yavatmal district.