The Delhi High Court on Wednesday asked the government to continue surprise inspections of vegetable and fruit markets in Delhi and submit a report on the presence of pesticide residue and use of toxic chemicals in two weeks.
A bench of Chief Justice D Murugesan and Justice Jayant Nath asked the Agriculture ministry to carry out inspections to check for presence of chemicals in fruits,especially in mangoes,and take action against the persons responsible.
The issue is serious and requires the Unions response in two weeks… The inspections are also to be carried out in fruit markets to find out whether mangoes contain any pesticide residue… Action Taken Report to be filed before the court by May 29, the court said.
The order came during a hearing on a PIL filed in 2010 regarding the increasing presence of pesticide residue in the citys food supply,and the Agriculture ministry had earlier formed a committee to look into the issue on the directions of the High Court. Advocate Meera Bhatia,appearing on behalf of the Ministry,told the court that the committee report was under process.
Just because the report is under process does not mean that the inspections will not be done. Find out whether the vegetables and particularly the seasonal mangoes have been treated with chemicals, the court said after Advocate Sugriva Dubey said seasonal fruits such as mangoes were being injected with toxic carcinogenic chemicals to change their colour and hasten ripening. They sprinkle chemicals and the green mango turns red overnight. The chemicals used are highly toxic, Dubey said.
He also alleged that in the current mango season,one can find chemicals in more than 90 per cent of mangoes sold in the market.
Earlier,taking suo motu cognisance of a media report,the court had directed the ministry to set up a committee and frame guidelines to prevent use of pesticide residues in fruits and vegetables. The Centre had constituted the committee comprising experts and government officials,but the guidelines are yet to be framed. The government also informed the court that the committee was expected to hold a meeting on May 23 to look into the issue and compile the report.
In spite of the matter being pending since November 2010,this complaint has no solution, remarked Justice Murugesan. The court noted that the problem was prevalent in seasonal fruits and daily staples such as potatoes,tomatoes and other vegetables.