Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis on Sunday directed the district administration of Yavatmal to register cases of culpable homicide against the pesticide manufacturers and wholesalers responsible for selling unlicensed products that led to the deaths of at least 50 farm labourers and farmers in Vidarbha recently.
A preliminary investigation revealed the dealers and manufacturers violated the Insecticides Act, 1969, while selling the pesticides.
At a meeting at Yavatmal, Fadnavis instructed the district machinery to ensure farmers take precautions while spraying pesticides in their fields. Most of the pesticide-related deaths, 24, were reported in Yavatmal, a major cotton-growing district that has often been in the news for farmer suicides. The farmers died after spraying pesticides on their Bt cotton crop. Around 1,000 farmers, most of them landless labourers, suffered breathing problems, nausea, vomiting, blurred vision, skin rashes, dizziness and headaches. Around 100 farmers are still recovering in hospital.
Fadnavis also visited the government-run medical college and hospital on Sunday morning and met those affected.
Officials told Fadnavis the district administration had supplied more than 8,000 new kits that would ensure farmers did not inhale pesticides. Besides, an extensive training programme was on to educate farmers about safety, protection and other techniques while spraying pesticides in the fields. Fadnavis also directed the district administration to hold joint meetings of officials concerned every day to review the situation.
The chief minister provided Rs50 lakh to the medical college and hospital at Yavatmal for farmers’ treatment.
Fadnavis also directed the Maharashtra state cotton marketing federation to start procuring raw cotton from next week so that cotton growers in the region get a good rate for their produce and are paid on time.
Pesticide poisoning kills two more in Vidarbha, toll at 50