‘Deaths of farmers from pesticide genocide by state,’ says farmer welfare task force chief

Farmers’ welfare task force chief seeks criminal action.

Written by Vivek Deshpande | Nagpur | Updated: October 10, 2017 5:10 am
A farmer sprays pesticide in a Yavatmal field. (Express Photo: Deepak Dawre)

Kishor Tiwari, the chief of the Vasantrao Naik Sheti Swawlamban Mission, a state government task force set up for the welfare of farmers, has termed the deaths of farmers from pesticide inhalation in Vidarbha as “genocide committed by the state” and sought criminal action against the manufacturers as well as “corrupt government officials hand in glove with them”.

Addressing a press conference here Monday, Tiwari claimed more than 40 farmers had died and at least 2,000 more hospitalised from pesticide inhalation in Vidarbha and Marathwada.

“This is genocide committed by the state. The pesticide-manufacturing companies and government officials operating in complete violation of the Insecticides Act are responsible for it,” he alleged. He sought “criminal action against them”.

Tiwari alleged the pesticide business in the country was controlled by three multinational companies, their agents in India and government officials. He demanded that chemical farming should be completely stopped and organic farming promoted “in the manner in which it is being done in Sikkim”.

He rubbished claims that factors like extra height gained by the cotton crop, excessive heat and new spray pumps were responsible for the deaths. “It’s wrong government policies and the rot in the system that are responsible for the deaths,” he said.

Tiwari also raised the issue of illegal Roundup Bt cotton allegedly being “stealthily brought in from Gujarat”. “This has come up on 10 lakh hectares and pests affecting it, atmospheric changes, excessive use of atropine to treat the affected persons are some of the contributing factors for the deaths,” he said.

Tiwari has sent a report to the government and made some recommendations. Asked if he would resign as declared earlier in case the state government doesn’t listen to his pleas, Tiwari said, “We have a chief minister from Vidarbha and he is a good CM. He listens to us. What will we do if we have someone from west Maharashtra returning as CM?”

His recommendations:

  • Immediate ban on chemical farming; Rs 25,000 per hectare grant to farmers for five years for natural farming
  •  Government purchase of entire “poison-less” produce
  • Immediate ban on foreign varieties of cotton
  • 100% supply of desi cottonseeds by state agriculture universities, research centres and Mahabeej
  • Herbal and cow urine-based insecticides
  • Marketing system and credit supply for sale of poison-less food at village level
  • A separate police-administration machinery to prevent exploitation of farmers by those selling seeds, chemicals and plant-growth controllers

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