Lessons from Chapra, Bihar Insecticides Tragedy should not be forgotten
Agriculture Ministry, Pollution Control Board should ensure inventorization, proper disposal of obsolete pesticides and contaminated containers, says Gopal Krishna, an activist. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
While it has been acknowledged that the Insecticide was responsible for the Mid Day Meal Tragedy on July 16, 2013 at the Dharma Sati Primary School Mashrak, Chapra in Saran district, the issue of widespread availability insecticides and absence of hmethod to deal with obsolete insecticides and their containers which are contaminated with insecticides has remained off the radar so far.
There is a crying need for Agriculture Ministry and Pollution Control Boards to ensure inventorization, proper disposal of obsolete pesticides and contaminated containers. Organophosphorous, a chemical used as an insecticide has been identified and found to be responsible for deaths and diseases of school children. Organophosphate-containing insecticides parathion, malathion, methyl parathion, chlorpyrifos, diazinon, dichlorvos, phosmet, fenitrothion, tetrachlorvinphos, azamethiphos, and azinphos methyl.
The agencies involved in the probe must identify the name of the Organophosphate insecticide involved and its manufacturer. The responsibility and liability of this manufacturer must be fixed. The probe must recommend take back policy so that these manufacturers have an Extended Producers Responsibility with regard to its residual insecticides and their containers.
It may be noted that most home uses of organophosphorus insecticides have been phased out in countries like USA. The US Environmental Protection Agency lists the organophosphate parathion as a possible human carcinogen. The World Health Organization, Pesticide Action Network (PAN) and several environmental organisations have sought a general and global ban on it. Its use is banned or restricted in 23 countries and its import is illegal in a total of 50 countries. Its use was banned in the U.S. in 2000 and it has not been used since 2003. The usage of such insecticides continues to be used because of the political patronage enjoyed by the manufacturers of these insecticides.
Union Ministry of Agriculture should initiate efforts to recall Organophosphorus pesticides, which is responsible for about 200,000 deaths annually. Organophosphorus pesticides cause poisoning by inhibiting release of enzymes.
Lessons from the Insecticides Tragedy in Bihar should not be forgotten. It creates a compelling logic for initiating efforts to make Bihar insecticides free.
In view of this insecticide tragedy, I, on behalf of ToxicsWatch Alliance (TWA) propose to initiate a campaign to Make Bihar Chemical Insecticides Free, to seek proper management of pre-existing insecticides and their containers and to take the issue of insecticides tragedy to its logical end.