The NHRC today issued notices to the Centre as well as the Maharashtra government, seeking their reply over death of farmers and injuries to several others after inhaling poisonous pesticide in Yavatmal district.
The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) issued the notices to chief secretary of Maharashtra and secretary of the Union Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare.
According to farm activists, the pesticide exposure in Yavatmal district has so far claimed at least 19 lives, although the government is yet to specify the number of deceased farmers.
While observing that the farmers' right to life and livelihood has been grossly violated, the commission, in its notice directed the Maharashtra chief secretary to ensure that best treatment is provided free of cost to the farmers, who are either admitted to the hospitals or taking treatment as outpatients.
"He has been asked to inform about the steps taken to stop the recurrence of such incidents and action taken against the guilty officers. The commission also expects the details of the ex-gratia paid to the victims and rehabilitation of the aggrieved families along with the policy perspective on the issue," the NHRC stated.
It 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 farmers fell prey to the callous and negligent attitude of the government departments, it stated.
"It appears that due to the lack of proper awareness about such a complicated technology for spraying pesticides on cotton crops, the farmers' right to life and livelihood has been grossly violated," the commission said.
The state cabinet had last week decided to provide Rs 2 lakh compensation to the family of each deceased farmer.
Meanwhile, talking to reporters in Nagpur, Union Minister of State for Home Hansraj Ahir said, "In addition to the state government's compensation of Rs 2 lakh each to the kin of the deceased, we are trying to provide another Rs two lakh compensation from the Centre in the pesticide-related deaths in Yavatmal.
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