Nationalist Congress Party chief Sharad Pawar on Monday termed the deaths of farmers in the state allegedly after inhaling pesticides “unfortunate”. He claimed that he didn’t allow the use of harmful chemicals when he was the Union agriculture minister.
Pawar expressed concern over the availability of uncertified pesticides in the market and said the “ministry concerned is fully responsible” for the deaths.
Recently, 21 farmers from Yavatmal died allegedly after inhaling pesticides while spraying them in their cotton fields. Last week, seven farmers in Solapur district were hospitalised as they complained of uneasiness after coming in contact with chemicals used in vineyards.
“It is a very unfortunate thing because there is a law regarding (use of) pesticides and there is an independent institute for this. Besides, pesticides cannot be used without the consent of this institute,” Pawar said. When asked on the spate of pesticide-related deaths of farmers, he said, “During my tenure as the agriculture minister (in the Congress-led UPA government), such incidents never happened because we never allowed the use of pesticides without clearance.”
On the issue of farm loan waiver in Maharashtra, the former chief minister raised questions about the way the scheme was being implemented. “In some places, farmers who did not take loans have been handed over loan waiver certificates. This raises questions over its proper implementation,” he said.
The Maharashtra government had last week released Rs 4,000 crore under the first phase of the over Rs 34,000-crore farm loan waiver scheme. The first phase will cover more than 8 lakh farmers.
The NCP chief said the government should seek the Centre’s help and provide assistance to farmers who have suffered losses to their soybean and cotton crops due to unseasonal rains. “The state should approach the Centre in this regard and provide immediate assistance to the affected farmers. I will discuss this issue with the state government,” Pawar said.