NHRC notices to Centre, Punjab over pesticides health hazards
NEW DELHI: The NHRC has sent notices to the Union Health Ministry and Punjab government over reports that excessive use of pesticides and insecticides have allegedly left residue of heavy metals in soil and groundwater, causing various diseases to the people in the Malwa region. The National Human Rights Commission has issued notices to the chief secretary of the state and secretary of the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, seeking detailed report within six weeks. “They have been asked to inform about the steps taken, after the year 2012, when the Commission had disposed the matter on the assurance given by the state government for an affirmative and prompt action to deal with the menace,” the NHRC said in a statement on Wednesday. The rights panel said it has “taken suo motu cognisance of a media report about how excessive use of pesticides and insecticides have left residue of heavy metals in soil and groundwater , causing various serious diseases to many people in the Malwa region of Punjab”. The report had quoted a study conducted by the Baba Farid Centre for Special Children, as well as stories of some affected people from different villages in the region, it said. The Commission has observed that it seems that even after lapse of a period of more than seven years, things have not moved and the people residing in the Malwa region are still suffering from various diseases, including cancer, liver failure, renal failure and birth defects. “The negligence by the state authorities has caused grave violation of human rights of these people. Due to these diseases, poor victims are not able to lead a normal life with dignity. The insensitive approach of the administration is apparent,” the Commission said. The state cannot leave its citizens, affected by various diseases due to soil and drinking water poisoning, to live in “undignified and traumatised conditions”, the NHRC said. According to the report carried on January 28, it is mentioned that heavy metals are reaching the environment in “dangerous amounts” from reckless human activities due to their use in products like pesticides, herbicides, medicines, paints and cosmetics. A study, reportedly conducted by the Baba Farid Centre for Special Children, an NGO, suggested that “heavy metals may be responsible for a steady decline in sperm count, disturbed ovulation cycles, increasing menstrual disorders, sterility, spontaneous abortions, premature births and birth defects,” the Commission said.
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