Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis Sunday visited Yavatmal to take stock of the situation following the death of farmers and farm hands due to passive inhalation of pesticides, and directed officials to take strict action against sellers as well as manufacturing companies found guilty in the matter. He said the state would carry out amendments in the central Insecticides Act in order to address and prevent the problems arising out of pesticide poisoning. Fadnavis also visited the Government Medical College and interacted with patients under treatment for pesticide poisoning.
Addressing a meeting of top officials from the district administration, the zila parishad and the health department, the CM directed them to strictly deal with those selling unauthorised pesticides as well as those selling pesticides with any authorisation, including manufacturers. “The government will teach appropriate lesson to anyone taking farmers’ lives for the sole motive of earning profit,” said the CM.
In Vidarbha, nearly 40 people working in cotton fields over the last four months have died due to pesticide poisoning — 20 of them in Yavatmal district alone. More than 1,000 farmers had to be hospitalised. The government has ordered an inquiry by the additional chief secretary and a special investigating team.
The CM also said responsibility would be fixed in the matter of smuggling of illicit Bt cotton seeds into the state. This was in reference to the reports of illegal Roundup Ready Flex (weedicide resistant) Bt seeds smuggled in from Gujarat and being cultivated by many farmers. Fadnavis called for creating a standard operating procedure for krishi kendras (farm input vendors) by inviting them for discussions. He also directed the officials to conduct workshops for farmers and farm labourers on appropriate methods of spraying.
Announcing amendments in the Central Insecticides Act, the CM spoke of the lack of antidotes available for treatment of patients suffering due to insecticide poisoning. He said sufficient quantities of antidotes would be made available immediately and the government would ensure no repeat of such incidents. Fadnavis directed health department officials to undertake a bond from doctors at the time of their appointment at government hospitals that they would not quit the job before the designated period.
The CM also took review of cotton and soyabean purchase by the state. “All purchase centres in the district must be started within two days and the district collector should give a report to the state government about the same. Strict action would be taken against private traders who would buy the farmers’ produce at low rates,” he said.
Fadnavis reiterated that the loan waiver would accrue only to those eligible due to the online system being employed to carry out the procedure. He also stressed that the loan waiver benefit would not be given to anyone without Aadhaar. Yavatmal Collector Rajendra Deshmukh, Civil Surgeon T G Dhote, District Superintending Officer Navnath Kolatkar, Superintendent of Police M Rajkumar, Wasantrao Naik Sheti Swawalamban Mission chief Kishor Tiwari and District Guardian Minister Madan Yerawar were present on the occasion.
Congress has good social media network: CM
Interacting with the media during a ‘Diwali Milan’ programme at his official residence in Nagpur later in the day, Fadnavis admitted that Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi had come up with a good social media network to carry out his campaign against the BJP. “It is true that Rahul Gandhi’s team has built a good social media network over the past few months, creating campaign material and spreading it across all media platforms effectively. But we too are now geared up to counter it,” he said.