A plea seeking an immediate ban on 19 pesticides as recommended by an expert panel on the ground that they are carcinogenic has been moved in Delhi High Court, which has sought the Centre’s stand on the issue. A bench of Chief Justice G Rohini and Justice Sangita Dhingra Sehgal asked the Centre’s lawyer to take instructions on the issues raised in the PIL which has claimed that the panel’s recommendation to ban the 19 chemicals was accepted by the government but have not yet been implemented.
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The petition has also alleged “conflict of interest” against the expert committee for having representatives from the pesticide industry who, it claimed, had vested commercial interest. It has contended that the panel had “heavily relied” upon the inputs of these members from the pesticide industry and alleged that this had led to 47 chemicals not being banned.
As per the petition, the expert panel was set up by the Agriculture Ministry to look into 66 pesticides which were banned in other countries but continued to be used in India. The petitioner, K V Biju, has sought directions to the Centre to reconstitute the panel by excluding members from the industry and include independent representatives from the government.
It also sought reconsideration of the continued usage of 47 pesticides as per the recommendations of the expert panel. Of the 19 pesticides, the committee had recommended immediate ban on production and import of 13 of them, prohibit their use by 2018 and phase out the remaining six by 2020. It had recommended continuation of the remaining 47 pesticides, asking for a review of 28 of them in 2018. The matter is listed for hearing on December 7.