Nine farmers have died in the Yavatmal district of Maharashtra after an insecticide known as ‘Profex Super’ was sprayed on their Bt cotton plantations. They died after accidentally inhaling toxic fumes while spraying the pesticides.
The Vasantrao Naik Shetkari Swavalamban Mission, the government of Maharashtra’s task force to deal with farm distress, has asked the central government to look into the matter.
The VNSSM chief, Kishor Tiwari, was quoted by The Hindu as saying:
“Nine innocent farmers fell ill and died in hospital after spraying toxic insecticides on their cotton produce to save it from pest attacks. Four other farmers have lost their vision, and almost 70 farmers are undergoing treatment at the government medical college in Yavatmal after spraying the same toxic insecticide.”
He further added that changes in the environment have resulted in huge attacks of bollworm and whitefly on cotton, which forced these farmers to go for continuous uncontrolled pesticide and insecticide spraying to save their standing cotton crop production. However, the farm labourers failed to take necessary measures and used the toxic insecticide without any comprehension of how to spray the toxic chemical, its schedule, timing and wind direction, which resulted in their tragic deaths.
Mr Tiwari blamed the lack of an Agriculture University and the Department of Agriculture’s services in the area for the deaths.
Doctors at Vasantrao Naik Government Medical College have confirmed that at least 160 patients got treatment for toxic inhaling in the current month of September, and over 300 in the last three months. Almost 20 patients were in intensive care unit (ICU) in a precarious condition.
“Right now, around 60 such patients are getting medical attention. It was unusual to have such large number of patients; the wards are overflowing with them,” the dean of the college, Dr Ashok Rathod, told The Times Of India.
Dr Manish Shrigiriwar, head of forensics department at the hospital, confirmed to the press at least six deaths by pesticide poisoning in the last two weeks. And Dr Rathod confirmed five deaths and three cases of farmers complaining of impairment of vision due to fumes caused while spraying on crops.
Narendra Fulzele, the resident district collector, said that the administration started an enquiry after a farmers delegation registered a complaint on 25 September. Then, on the following day, the collector wrote to the civil surgeon and district health officer to estimate the situation and file data within two days. The situation got some official attention only after Vasantrao Naik Shetkari Swavalamban Mission, the task force on farm distress, took it up.
The Logical Indian community offers sincere condolences to the families of nine innocent lives. We request the concerned authorities to start an enquiry into the matter and start making people aware of agricultural processes so that they can properly and rightly use any required pesticides on their agricultural lands.