Leader of Opposition in Maharashtra Legislative Council Dhananjay Munde today alleged a "nexus" between Bt cotton seed companies and political parties is responsible for the deaths of farmers due to passive inhalation of poisonous pesticides in Yavatmal district.
Munde demanded a probe into what he termed as a "massive Bt cotton seed scam" in the state.
The NCP leader said he had written a letter to Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis and Agriculture Minister Pandurang Fundkar stating that pink bollworms have become resistant to pesticides sprayed on BT cotton.
"Through the letter dated July 6, I had tried to bring to the government's notice the report of the Central Institute of Cotton Research (CICR) which stated that pink bollworms are not responding to pesticides sprayed on BT cotton seeds," Munde said.
Munde said he had suggested that the government could either bring an alternative to BT cotton seeds or change the pesticides being used.
"I had also suggested that the government take a policy decision about seeds and pesticides and also conduct an awareness programme among farmers to avoid any hazardous situation. However, my letter was ignored by the state and 21 innocent farmers lost their lives which was completely avoidable," he said.
Munde alleged that no action is taken against seed companies as they "donate a large amount to the ruling party".
Rubbishing Munde's allegations, Agriculture Minister Pandurang Fundkar said the government has already banned, fined and lodged cases against companies that had claimed that Bt cotton seeds with Bollgard II (BG II) technology will be resistant to American and pink bollworms but failed to live up to its claims.
"Munde should answer people why did the previous (Congress-NCP) government allow foreign companies enter the market. How much money did they take at that time. Munde should answer if there was any penalty imposed or action taken on the companies from 2002 on the failed pest resistance of the genetically modified seed," Fundkar told PTI.
He said the chief minister has already recommended a CBI probe into the issue and contrary to Munde's claims of a scam, the government is trying to loosen the hold of foreign companies in the seed market.
"The government is trying to loosen the hold of foreign companies and will launch NHH 44 and PKV Hy-2 cotton seeds through the agriculture universities and Seeds Corporation so that foreign companies do not stay here anymore," Fundkar said.
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