'Agri dept has failed to create awareness on Lannate'

Experts says both and agriculture dept and farmers are at fault

With one more farmer taking ill while spraying Lannate at Hunsur taluk, in Mysuru district on Friday, the total number of cases of farmers who have been affected due to the pesticide, since November, has risen to 75.

Meanwhile, farmer organisations have blamed the Agriculture department, for their failure to create awareness about the dangers of using the insecticide.

Ramachandrappa, Assistant Director of Agriculture department, said that the person who had been affected, was discharged from the hospital as his condition improved. “The incident occurred as there was a leak in the tank, which was being used to spray the insecticide. He had vomiting sensation for a while and was treated,” he said.

Awareness campaigns
The cases are being reported from villages such as Modur, Bannikuppe, Kattekere, Odambalu and Yeerakyathanahalli villages, he said. He said that there were 42 farm facilitators in the district, who are creating awareness during Grama Sabhas to all farmers. Apart from this, awareness campaigns are being taken up by announcing precautionary measures in an autorickshaw. A temporary facility to create awareness has been set up at Bannikuppe, he said. 

Veerabhadrappa, farm facilitator of Modur grama panchayat, said that the insecticide was being used in the region for the past five to six years. However, such a large number of farmers have been affected only recently. “But, the cases are being reported in only few villages. For instance, farmers have been spraying the same insecticide in Harave village of Modur grama panchayat and no one has been taken ill,” he said. On why cases continue to be reported, he said that farmers were using the pesticide they have bought in the past. “Sale of Lannate in the open market, has been discontinued,” he added.

Badagalapura Nagendra, general secretary of Karnataka Rajya Raitha Sangha, pinned the blame on Agriculture department and the State government for such incidents. “Such cases are being reported regularly. There are several employees under Agriculture department whose job is to create awareness on insecticides, fertilisers and methods to use them. Since, they have not done their jobs, farmers are taking ill,” he complained.

Action should be initiated against Agriculture department officials for their lapses, he said. “While officials admit that more than 70 people have taken ill, it is possible that the number of cases are more and the department is hiding the facts,” he alleged.

Agriculture expert, Nanjappa B C said that long term exposure to the insecticide could lead to lung disorders. “Even if the department creates awareness against these insecticides, farmers are not ready to heed their directions, as they want the insects to be destroyed soon. However, there are relatively safer insecticides such as Flame, which is relatively safer to humans and is a good insecticide,” he said.

While such cases are being reported for the first time in the district, Lannate has taken its toll on farmers in Gulbarga in the past, he added.

He said that both farmers and the department are to blame for the incident. “However, State government should have the foresight to ban such toxic insecticides,” he said, noting that the chemical was banned in developed nations, such as USA.

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