After the farm laws, the fertiliser industry has raised a red flag over the Pesticides Amendment Bill, contending that in its existing form the draft legislation could hit exports and harm research.
The Bill, introduced in the Rajya Sabha during the Budget Session of Parliament, seeks to replace the 52-year-old Insecticides Act and was expected to reform the sector.
“However, the PMB, in present shape, is a big disappointment… rather it will bring back inspector raj,” Ajit Kumar, Chairman of the technical committee of the Crop Care Federation of India (CCFI) said.
Kumar said the Bill seeks to criminalise all offences with the threat of arrest and a jail term for the manufacturers.
A 15-point note prepared by the CCFI states that Section 52 of the Bill seeks to issue summonses to Directors of a company for the very first instance of offence, treating wealth creators as criminals.
Kumar said the Bill also sought to criminalise all offences contrary to the government’s stated commitment to decriminalise laws.
Offences should be decriminalised and made into civil in nature in line with Section 554 of the Companies Act, 2013,” he said.
Kumar said the industry was also concerned about a provision that seeks to prohibit exports of products banned in India.
“Every country bans or allows the use of products depending on the local situation. However, to stop export of the same product does not make sense,” he said.
The industry has also objected to the provision that allowed the government to control the prices of pesticides.
“Provision for price control will be a major deterrent in introduction of new products, farmer’s training, demonstrations for safe and effective usage,” Kumar said.
Further, Kumar said the bill provides for import of formulations which would kill the Indian industry and does not give a level playing field.
Kumar also wanted the government to strike off a provision regarding the sale of certain pesticides through 'prescription' saying this would hamper the availability of pesticides to farmers.