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Ban On Hazardous Pesticides : Supreme Court Asks Centre To File Status Report

Sohini Chowdhury
24 Jan 2023 7:34 AM GMT
Ban On Hazardous Pesticides : Supreme Court Asks Centre To File Status Report

In a plea seeking weeding out of harmful chemicals and pesticides being used in India causing severe health hazards to farm workers, people living in the vicinity and the consumers, the Supreme Court, on Monday, directed the Centre to file an updated status report in respect of the regulatory measures taken by it for effecting a ban on hazardous pesticides.

Considering the variance in the submissions made by the petitioner and the Union Government with respect to the banning of hazardous pesticides mentioned in the petition, a perplexed Bench comprising the Chief Justice of India, D.Y. Chandrachud, Justice V. Ramasubramanian and Justice J.B. Pardiwala asked the Additional Solicitor General, Mr. Vikramjit Banerjee to submit an updated status report in order to obtain some clarity for the purpose of passing an order.

The petition filed through Advocate, Prashant Bhushan seeks enforcement of the right to health of farmers, farm workers as well as consumers by banning 99 harmful pesticides that are used in India but have been banned by other countries and at least an additional six more that are used in India and have been withdrawn or restricted by other countries. It cites instances of severe environment and health hazards caused by pesticides, particularly in Punjab, Kerala and Maharashtra. The plea refers to studies that have linked pesticides use by the farmers and their suicidal tendencies. Cancer, DNA damage, damage to the brain and nervous system, Parkinson’s Disease, Birth Defects, Immunological changes, and adverse effects on the physical and mental development of children in farmers and farm workers and their families were indicated as some of the health risks associated with use of pesticides.

Subsequently, an application was filed seeking direction to the Centre to review 85 pesticides, besides the 99 forming the subject matter of the main petition seeking a ban on pesticides with grave health and environmental hazards. The application argues that the 85 pesticides have not even been reviewed by the Anupam Verma committee which had been set to review the use of 66 pesticides which were banned in other countries. The application further prays that all pesticides be reviewed and the review committee should include independent health experts working on the issue of health impacts of pesticides, state government representatives and also experts from the ecological agriculture field.

[Case Title: Vanashakti Vanashakti And Ors. v. UoI And Ors. WP(C) No. 237/2017]

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