SC notice to Centre on plea to ban pesticides

The Supreme Court on Monday issued notice to the Union government on a PIL seeking direction to ban pesticides for its disastrous impact on human health and environment.

A three-judge bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justices A M Khanwilkar and D Y Chandrachud sought response from the Centre on the petition filed by Kavitha Kuruganti, national convener of Alliance for Sustainable and Holistic Agriculture. She urged the court to prohibit the use of pesticides banned by other countries.

Advocate Prashant Bhushan, appearing for the petitioner, contended that large parts of the farming belts of the country have been polluted and contaminated by pesticides. Unacceptable levels of pesticide residues have been found not only in the groundwater and soil but also in the blood, tissues, hair, nails and breast milk of farmers and farmworkers in the country, he said.

"The central and state governments have a duty towards the farmers and farmworkers as citizens of this country, to ensure they are able to live healthy lives in a clean and healthy environment; but rather than ensuring this, it appears that they have turned a blind eye to a large number of cases of acute poisoning due to pesticides which result in deaths, hospitalisation and subsequent ill-health," the petition contended.

Disease burden high

The farmers and farmworkers are suffering from severe diseases ranging from abnormally high number of cancers and reproductive disorders to mental illnesses that are attributable to the use of pesticides, it contended, citing various study reports.

The petitioner also relied upon a 2011 scientific paper showing adverse impact of endosulfan on children aged between 1-15 in Dakshina Kannada district of Karnataka like bioaccumulation in humans and animals.

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