Over 3,600 firms prosecuted for selling low quality pesticides in last 5 yrs: Govt

NEW DELHI, Feb 7: More than 3,600 firms have been prosecuted for manufacturing, sale and illegal import of sub-standard pesticides in the last five years and 137 companies were convicted by courts after they were found to be guilty, the Government said on Tuesday.
“In last 5 years (2017-18 to 2021-22), Directorate of Plant Protection, Quarantine & Storage under the Ministry of Agriculture has analysed 3,40,479 pesticide samples, and 3,639 cases have been prosecuted against the firms who were found involved in the manufacture, sale and illegal import of sub-standard/low-quality pesticides, and in 137 cases the firms have been convicted by the Court after finding guilty,” Minister of State for Chemicals and Fertilisers Bhagwanth Khuba said.
In a written reply to the Rajya Sabha, the minister said the chemical sector is de-licensed and de-regulated.
The agriculture ministry has notified the Insecticide Act, 1968, wherein, there is no provision of spurious pesticides, however, under section 3k, the definition of ‘misbranded’ pesticide is clearly defined.
To ensure the availability of quality pesticides to farmers, the minister said provisions have been made that no insecticide can be manufactured, stocked, sold or exhibited for sale without a license granted by the licensing officer appointed by state governments.
The licenses are being granted after satisfying the availability of necessary plant and machinery, safety devices and first-aid facility in the premises where the insecticides are proposed to be manufactured or sold or distributed.
As per the Insecticide Act, 1968, the quality control of pesticides is primarily the responsibility of states being the licensing authority.
“At present, 11,080 officers of various State Governments are notified as Insecticide Inspectors to check the quality of pesticides and its management. To ensure availability of quality pesticides, 70 pesticide testing laboratories (SPTL) and 6 State BioPesticide Testing Laboratories (SBTLs) are established in 25 States and 2 Union Territories with a total annual capacity to test 77,975 samples,” the minister said.
The Centre supplements the resources of state/UT governments in quality control testing of pesticides, he added.
At present, 191 central government officers are notified as Central Insecticide Inspectors, and there exists one Central Insecticide Laboratory and two Regional Pesticides Testing Laboratories at Chandigarh and Kanpur under the Directorate of Plant Protection, Quarantine & Storage with an annual testing capacity of 4,700 samples.
That apart, Khuba said the Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) formulates standards for chemicals, and most of the standards are presently voluntary in nature.
To ensure the manufacture and import of quality chemicals, the minister said that the Department of Chemicals & Petrochemicals has initiated an exercise to make BIS standards mandatory for some chemicals under Section 16 of the BIS Act, 2016.
Accordingly, the department of chemicals & petrochemicals has notified 61 Quality Control Orders to make BIS standards mandatory so far. (PTI)