A new draft bill on regulating pesticides, released by the centre, proposes an increase in penalties on violators and gives more power to state governments to take action against them.
Objectives of the bill:
- The bill’s stated objectives are ensuring availability of quality pesticides, minimizing the contamination of agricultural commodities by pesticide residue, and creating awareness among users regarding safe and judicious use of pesticides
Highlights of the draft bill:
- It proposes an increase in penalties on violators and gives more power to state governments to take action against them
- It seeks to replace the Insecticides Act of 1968
- It also puts in place detailed clauses for registration of new molecules, includes a broader category of offences and the provision for paying compensation to farmers
- The draft comes in the wake of several pesticide-related deaths in recent months
- Further, the bill has tightened the guidelines for registration and licensing of new molecules
- It allows provisional registration of new pesticides in India in case of “national exigency” for a period of two years
- According to the draft, state governments have to report all cases of poisoning to the centre on a quarterly basis and states can also ban chemical pesticides for up to six months
- Currently, states can ban a chemical for up to two months
- Punishment under the bill: According to the bill, the maximum punishment for violation (such as sale of prohibited or spurious pesticides) is a penalty of up to Rs50 lakh and up to five years’ imprisonment
- Protection under the consumer protection act: The proposed bill provides for paying compensation to the affected farmers or users under the provisions of the Consumer Protection Act, 1986
- It also says that anyone who “uses” a pesticide contravening provisions under the Act can face punishment.