Pesticides giving women cancer, says Lok Adalat

A Bench of the Lok Adalat has observed that the use of banned pesticides has led to cervical and breast cancer among female agriculture labourers in six districts which fall under the Gulbarga revenue division.

The Bench comprising Justice D V Shylendra Kumar of the High Court and A N Yellappa Reddy, a member of the Lok Adalat, in its sitting in Bangalore on Saturday, directed the departments of health and agriculture to conduct a survey among labourers and suggest remedial measures.

It also asked health department officials to send blood samples of agriculture workers for lab analysis so that treatment can be provided. But while encouraging these progressive steps, the Bench added that ‘extended responsibility’ should be fixed on pesticide manufacturers, to force them to reduce the toxicity level of their products.

Awareness

Yellappa Reddy, speaking to Deccan Herald said they first learnt of the issue during a Lok Adalat session in Gulbarga. Several complaints had been received then, with regard to a large number of female labourers suffering from various forms of cancer. Miscarriages among women also showed a marked increase.

In spite of this no scientific study has been conducted to discover the cause of health complications among labourers in Bellary, Koppal, Bidar, Gulbarga, Yadgir and Raichur districts which fall under the Gulbarga division.

‘Rampant use’

“The use of banned pesticides and endosulfan is rampant in these districts. Cotton and tur are grown in large quantum.

An entomologist of Agriculture University of Gulbarga had made a power point presentation to the Adalat explaining the adverse effect of the pesticides in the Gulbarga division.

We can’t ask the respective authorities to ban the pesticides at one go as farmers will find it difficult to manage.

The agriculture department is spending Rs 500 crore to Rs 600 crore to give farmers subsidies to purchase pesticides and fertilizers. The usage has to be scaled down by switching over to bio-pesticides. We have told the government to pay attention in this matter,” Reddy said.

“The State Pollution Control Board has also been criticised for not monitoring air, water and soil quality in districts which show high levels of toxicity because of pesticides. “Directions have been issued to the Board to conduct the tests, and added that it is unfortunate that no one is monitoring the ill-effects of pesticides on humans,” Reddy added.

TG Halli reservoir

The Lok Adalat has suggested to the Bangalore Urban Deputy Commissioner, the BWSSB and the Palike to remove existing hurdles, including hazardous industries, so that treated sewage water can be released from Nagawara and Nagasandra lakes to Thippagondanahalli reservoir.

Yellappa Reddy said that no less than 100 million litres per day of treated sewage water could be released into the TG Halli reservoir.

Garbage

Palike Commissioner Rajneesh Goel, who appeared before the Bench, said the Palike will make Bangalore a better place in a few months by introducing a proper garbage disposal mechanism.

However, he said, the problem can’t be solved overnight. The statement was made when the Bench pointed out that garbage has been clogging drains in the City, affecting the flow of rainwater to lakes.

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