Callous attitude towards farmers in Yavatmal: NHRC

The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) on Monday castigated authorities for their “callous and negligent attitude” that led to the death of 18 farmers in Maharashtra’s Yavatmal due to infection caused by spraying a pesticide on cotton crops.

Seeking reports from the Centre and Maharashtra government, it said due to lack of proper awareness about a complicated technology for spraying pesticides on cotton crops, the farmers’ Rights to Life and Livelihood have been “grossly violated”.

Quoting media reports, the NHRC said several farmers had to be hospitalised in Yavatmal district of Maharashtra due to an infection caused by spraying of a pesticide on the cotton crops. Many have died while others are serious, it said.


(Pesticide poisoning: Over 100 farmers are recovering at a district hospital in Yavatmal. Pix courtesy: NDTV)

“The Commission has observed that most of the farmers in the country are not adequately literate and are relying on the government agencies for the safe use of the agricultural products and the ancillary techniques. The victim farmers have fallen prey to the callous and negligent attitude of the government departments,” the NHRC said.

It has asked the Union Agriculture Secretary and the Maharashtra Chief Secretary to submit detailed reports within four weeks. The action came after the NHRC tool suo motu cognizance of media reports about the deaths.

The Chief Secretary has also been directed to ensure that the best treatment is provided free of cost to the farmers, who are either admitted to hospitals or taking treatment as an out-patient.

He has been asked to inform about the steps taken to stop recurrence of such incidents and the action against the guilty officers. The Commission also expects the details of the ex-gratia relief paid to the victims and rehabilitation of the aggrieved families along with the policy perspective on the issue, a statement said.

Maharashtra government has announced an inquiry into the deaths of 18 Yavatmal farmers and farm labourers. The reports said that the state Agriculture Minister has said that the farmers have not been following the directions for wearing gloves and protective clothing.

(An edited version appeared in Deccan Herald on Oct 10, 2017)

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