In our previous story concerning pesticide related deaths in Vidarbha, we illustrated how the deaths were preventable and occurred only due to the apathy and callousness of authorities that should have done a better job regulating the quality and sale of pesticides in the state. We also demonstrated how various authorities washed their hands off any responsibility and squarely blamed the farmers for their own deaths. In this story we will examine international standards and best practices to understand further the lacunae in our system. We looked into various provisions of the Insecticides Act, 1968 and how these were not being adhered to by small and big players. How dangerous pesticides like Monocrotophos that is sold under the brand name Monocil and that was directly responsible for the deaths of 18 farmers in Yavatmal, are easily available over the counter.
Acts and legal provisionsThough the Insecticides Act was enacted in 1968 to ensure a mechanism to regulate the import, manufacture, sale, transport, distribution and use of insecticides with a view to preventing risk to humans and animals, several lacunae in the Act made the unregulated flow of pesticides possible in the markets. Some of these loopholes include a lack of clarity on qualification for manufacturers, dealers, stockists and commercial pest control operators, larger representation of experts in the Central Pesticides Board and the Registration Committee, fixing tolerance limits of pesticides as a pre-condition of their registration. Also, since the Act was drafted about 5 decades ago, an elaborate description of pesticides to cover any substance of chemical or biological origin intended for preventing, destroying, repelling, mitigating or controlling any pest, including unwanted species of plants or animals, which may enable regulation of existing pesticides as well as new discoveries, is missing.
A new Pesticides Management Bill was tabled in the parliament in 2008. The said bill claims to cover all aspects of development, regulation and quality monitoring, production, management, packaging, labeling, distribution, handling, application, control, including post registration activities and disposal of all types of pesticides. The Bill proposes stringent punishments to check production and sale of misbranded, sub-standard and spurious pesticides, besides, and most importantly, providing for the disposal of expired, sub-standard and spurious pesticides in an environment friendly and safe manner.