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Contentious Pesticide Management Bill Sent to Parliamentary Panel | India News


NEW DELHI: Amid certain concerns expressed by stakeholders, including industries, the 2020 Pesticide Management Bill, which seeks to regulate the manufacture, import, sale, storage, use, distribution, and disposal of pesticides, has been referred to Parliament’s standing committee on agriculture for review.
The parliamentary panel must present its report within three months. The bill, if passed in Parliament, will replace the 53-year-old Insecticides Act of 1968.
The bill was referred to the Committee on June 3. Stakeholders, including pesticide industries, had been demanding it since the bill was introduced in Rajya Sabha in March 2020.
Agricultural activists, however, opposed the move, saying the industry lobby had its way when Parliament was not working.
“It seems that what we are witnessing here is the adoption of a very unusual parliamentary process. Without the matter being discussed when the bill was introduced in March 2020, it has now been sent to a Standing Committee. And this is something the pesticide industry has been pushing for, ”said Kavitha Kuruganti, a farmer’s rights activist and coordinator of the Alliance for Sustainable and Holistic Agriculture (ASHA).
He noted that both domestic and foreign industry players want provisions related to sanctions to be minimized. “Meanwhile, the Standing Committees are not allowed to select topics and continue their work virtually,” Kuruganti said.
By virtue of the sanctioning provisions of the bill, manufacturing, importing, distributing, selling, displaying for sale, transporting, storing or carrying out pest control operations, without a license or certificate, is punishable by imprisonment of up to three years or a fine of up to Rs 40 lakh, or both. However, people who use pesticides in their own home, orchard or on their own farmland cannot be prosecuted for any offense provided for in the bill.
The bill also includes a provision in which the central and state governments can prohibit the distribution, sale or use of a pesticide or a specific lot in an area, up to a period of one year if they represent a risk or can negatively affect humans. health, other living organisms or the environment, or pose a barrier to international trade in agricultural products.
Although the bill was conceived to reform the agricultural sector by promoting science-based solutions to problems faced by farmers and minimizing the use of hazardous chemicals without any follow-up, some stakeholders felt that the bill, if is approved in its current form, it will adversely affect the Indian agriculture and farmers in the long term.
Noting their concerns after the introduction of the bill, the pesticide industries had observed that the continuous review provisions of registered pesticides with the threat of discontinuing their production would seriously disrupt the supply chain of necessary crop protection.
On the new sanctions provisions, some of them had argued that the stricter sanctions can centralize unbridled powers with inspection authorities, rekindling memories of the ‘Raj License’. They also cautioned that the provisions may deter manufacturers from investing in India.

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