India: CSA-India complaint forces Andhra Pradesh Govt to admit pesticide-related deaths Print E-mail

 Tuesday October 31 2006

AP govt admits pesticide killed farmers

From R Akhileshwari
DH News Service Hyderabad:
Forced by an NGO’s complaint to the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), the Andhra Pradesh government has acknowledged, after having denied it for years, that several agricultural labourers have died due to exposure to dangerous pesticides. The government has now assured the NHRC that since then measures have been put in place to contain the phenomenon and to give relief to the families of the affected. The admission comes in response to a campaign spearheaded by the Centre for Sustainable Agriculture (CSA) which recorded some labourers’ deaths due to exposure to pesticide sprayed in Warangal district.

G V Ramanjaneyulu, Executive Director of CSA, pointed out that this is the first time the government has acknowledged the existence of this problem.

Action taken report
The action taken report, submitted by the state government to the NHRC, says that it has constituted a five-member committee headed by a Special Chief Secretary (Revenue) to study the issue and has agreed to pay compensation to the victims’ family under the Apathbandhu scheme. In their petition, Dr Ramanjaneyulu and Kavita Kuruganti of the CSA, had highlighted the fact that eight farmers had died and 202 were hospitalised between 2004-05 crop year in Warangal district.

Monitoring
They had monitored the cases in six area hospital. They wanted the government to put in place, a proper mechanism based on hospital surveillance and a system monitored by Panchayat Raj institutions.

The government now has asked all the hospitals and primary health centres to take up an intensive educational campaign on precautions to be taken before spraying pesticide.

They have been asked to ensure availability of antidotes and, display treatment protocols. The NHRC has closed the case since the AP Government had initiated “appropriate action”.

However, Ms Kuruganti said she was disappointed that not only had the NHRC let the state government off although the measures promised had not been grounded, but the harmful pesticides too were not banned.