Free Press Journal

Maharashtra government forms SIT to probe pesticide deaths of farmers in Yavatmal


Mumbai: The Maharashtra government plans to appoint a special investigation team to probe poisoning from pesticides, which claimed many lives in the cotton belt of Yavatmal and its surrounding areas, Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis said on Tuesday.

In the last couple of months, several farmers have been hospitalised due to widespread infections resulting from inhalation of pesticides sprayed on cotton plantations in Yavatmal district. So far, 18 have been reported dead in Yavatmal alone, and five in its surrounding areas.

Earlier, the state government had appointed a special committee under Additional Chief Secretary Sudhir Srivastava, which had submitted its report last week. “Based on the report, we have taken a decision to slap manufacturers of these pesticides with a charge of culpable homicide…those who sold these pesticides without licence would also be sued,” Fadnavis told reporters after a meeting of the state Cabinet here on Tuesday. “We have also decided to suspend an agricultural development officer in Yavatmal district,” he added.

“A Chinese gun, which sprays 1 ltr pesticide in just one min, creates intense fumes. It was found farmers using these guns were most affected. Hence, we are also planning to ban sale of these guns,” Fadnavis said. A total of 10,000 protective gears, including gloves, masks and other protective accessories for nose and eyes, had been made available to farmers for use while spraying pesticides, he said.