Sunday, July 8, 2007

KVM demands ban 37 pesticides: Letter to Director Agriculture Punjab


Department of Agriculture,
Government of Punjab,
81-85, Sector 34 A,

Subject: Recommend ban on 37 pesticides to Central Insecticide Board & Expert Committee headed by Dr.C.D.Mayee

Respected Sir,
It is came to our notice that your good office has been informed by a official letter from Dr. Sandhya Kulshrestha , Secretary – CIB & RC , [Letter No. F.No.4-3/2 QPS-CIR-II ],that the CIB has constituted a expert group under the Chairmanship of Dr. C.D.Mayee of Agriculture Scientist Recruitment Board(ASRB) to review 37 pesticides which are banned / restricted in other countries but are being used in India.

Sir, the CIB has asked you to provide your observations, considered views , opinions and experiences on pesticides which under review, namely:

Sir, as CIB sought your views on the various aspects of toxicology, environment fate and eco-toxicology of these pesticides, it is important to submit here that you are very much familiar with the health impacts of pesticides and havoc played by these deadly chemicals.

Director Sir, it is humble submission by the Kheti Virasat Mission that:
v The state government should recommend the banning of these pesticides since they are known to put farmers on a pesticides treadmill, known to cause pest resistance and resurgence, put farmers at economic losses, and cause acute poisoning as well as long term health problems in addition to contaminating our environment. It is combinations of all these reasons that have made other countries ban these pesticides in any case.
v Though we welcome this move of Government to invite views on at least 10 pesticides but we demand that the government must put out information on all the 37 pesticides under review and not take up just these 10 pesticides.
v That the state government put out in the public domain its response to this letter of Secretary, CIB.
v That the CIB and expert committee under Dr C D Mayee consider all such pesticides which fall under Class 1a, Class 1b, carcinogenic and endocrine-disrupting pesticides and not just the above ten pesticides. This should of course include Endosulfan which has caused so much havoc in Kerala and Karnataka, in addition to other places where it is used.
v That liability for the damage caused so far be fixed on concerned parties i.e. the pesticide companies.
v Recently a Punjab Pollution Control Board (PPCB) sponsored epidemiological study done by Post Graduate Institute of Medical Research (PGIMER) Chandigarh has indicated the rise in cancer cases in Cotton belt of Punjab. The study indicates that Cotton belt of Punjab is engulfed by lethal pesticides and causing major health problems. Though this study was done in one Talwandi Sabo block of Bathinda district but the similar symptoms are emerging from entire cotton belt. The situation is so grim that village after village is reporting cancer, reproductive disorder, birth of mentally retarded children and other pesticide related diseases.
v The PGIMER study clearly indicts pesticides for high prevalence of cancer in the area. Study found both tap and groundwater laced with carcinogenic chemicals. Tap water contains high content of arsenic, chromium, iron, and Hg. Where as ground water also was replete with arsenic, chromium, nickel and ferrous. Even these deadly pesticides had seeped into locally-grown vegetables as well. The cauliflower was toxicated with Heptachlor Endoepoxide, Chlorpyrifos, Alpha Endosulfan and Alfa HCH.
v Today Punjab, just one small state in terms of its agricultural area 1.5 % of total geographical area and near 2.5% of total agriculture land of India, consumes more than 18 % of the total pesticides used in the country. This is a warning written on the wall.
v Apart from PGIMER-PPCB and CSE studies there are several other studies done at PAU and ICMR related to pesticide residues particularly POPs in food and milk chain of Punjab.
v It is also a most worrisome factor that traces of Persistent Organic Pollutants -POPs are found at large in Punjab. This is slow poisoning of Punjab. POPs are banned in majority of countries. POPs are known Endocrine disrupters and the main reason behind neurotoxicity, immunotoxicity, reproductive disorders, testicular cancer, and congenital malformations. Even the motherhood is challenged by POPs through foetotoxicity.
v The pollution from POPs knows no boundaries. They travel long distances and get deposited and accumulated in terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems. They are highly toxic even in very low concentrations, and resist degradation. The POPs can accumulate in fatty tissue (bioaccumulation), becoming more concentrated higher in the food chain and with time by biomagnification process.
v The abnormally high numbers of cancer cases are reported from all parts of Malwa’s cotton belt. Villages in Mansa, Sangrur, Lambi, Giddarbaha, Malout and Abohar also witnessing spreading clutches of deadly cancer.
Sir, your recommendation will have far reaching impact on ecology, environmental health, and public health, sustainability of agriculture and natural resources of Punjab. You can create history with bold recommendations and can save thousands of farmers. The elimination of pesticides will give a chance to Mother Nature to revive, to regenerate the lost eco-system. This can also pave way for a new sustainable eco- agriculture movement in Punjab.
Hope you will recommend a complete ban on not only 10 pesticides, but all 37 pesticides which were already banned in several other countries. As India is moving to become developed country we must care our environment also. It is our duty to hand over the ecological heritage in a healthy state to future generations.
The organic way of agriculture can definitely provide nature-friendly alternatives to these chemicals .It can also assure yields, profits, health, safe environment, rich bio-diversity and a Punjab with imperishable prosperity.
Thanking you
Yours truly,
(Umendra Dutt)
Executive Director,
Kheti Virasat Mission

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