Pawar: Didn’t allow harmful pesticides as Union agriculture minister

21 farmers from Yavatmal died allegedly after inhaling pesticides while spraying them in their cotton fields

NCP chief Sharad Pawar on Monday termed “unfortunate” the death of farmers in the state allegedly after inhaling pesticides and claimed that when he was the Union agriculture minister, harmful chemicals were not allowed to be used. He expressed concern over 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 told reporters at Nagpur airport on his way to Amaravati district.

Replying to a query about the spate of pesticide-related death of farmers, he said, “Such incidents did not happen till now. Uncertified pesticides are available in the market and the ministry concerned is 100 per cent responsible for this the deaths),” he said. “During my tenure as the agriculture minister (in the Congress-led UPA government at the Centre), such incidents never happened because we never allowed use of pesticides without clearance,” Pawar said.

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. I am ready to give the government some time on this issue,” 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 disbursal, in the first phase, would cover more than 8 lakh farmers. The NCP chief said the state government should seek the Centre’s help and provide assistance to farmers who have suffered losses to their soyabean and cotton crops due to unseasonal rains. “The state should approach the central government in this regard and provide immediate assistance to the affected farmers. I will discuss this issue with the state government,” Pawar said.

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