NHRC asks report on pesticide poisoning in TN

By NT Bureau Published on Feb 12, 2018 02:53 PM IST

Chennai: National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has acted upon the complaint of an activist who was part of a fact finding team that investigated into the recent spate of pesticide poisonings in Perambalur, Ariyalur, Salem and Cuddalore districts of Tamilnadu.

According to a statement here, the Commission had issued a notice asking Tamilnadu government to submit a report on the actions undertaken to address the problem. Response from the concerned authorities is still awaited.

In the NHRC complaint, the activist VM Parthasarathy alleged that no concrete preventive measures have been put in place by the government, and no ex-gratia relief provided to the affected.

Earlier, the fact finding team, that had met with the affected families and concerned government officials, presented evidence to show that more than 500 hospitalisations and nine deaths have taken place due to pesticide poisoning.

"Subsequent to our fact finding visit to meet affected families and other stakeholders, there have been further reports of poisonings. This is alarming that even after the spotlight was turned on this menace, farmers/farm workers could not be protected from such poisonings. This is indeed a matter of the basic human right to life. We hope that the NHRC response would alert the state government to its responsibility in this regard. There was a protest staged by the kin of the affected farmers for compensation, but this has been met with no positive response either," explained Parthasarathy.

The key demands from the team were to undertake an immediate and comprehensive assessment of the prevalence and intensity of the problem of pesticide poisonings in all districts, massive awareness campaigns by government on the ill effects of pesticides, symptoms of pesticide poisonings as well as ecological alternatives to be adopted by farmers, etc.

Activists demand compensation

The activists demand that the TN government take responsibility for this, and immediately pay an ex-gratia amount of at least 10 lakh rupees for families where a death occurred and 2 lakh rupees where a person has been hospitalised. They also ask the government to recover these compensation amounts from the pesticides industry and penalise them heavily.