The Pesticide Management Bill 2020
The pesticide sector in India is primarily governed by the Indian insecticides Act 1968 and the Insecticides Rules, 1971. Over the past couple of decades this Act and Rules have received several criticism with regard to pesticide regulation in India. Following continuous demands from civil society organisations and other stakeholders, Government of India has been trying to update the legislation on pesticides regulation since 2008. A draft Bill for this purpose, named the Pesticide Management Bill was presented in 2008, and somehow, nothing happened on it for about 10 years though stakeholders argued for amendments. An updated draft was made available earlier in 2017 for public comments after thousands of unfortunate incidents of farmer poisonings reported from a couple of Indian States. It took another three years for the government to come up with another version, named the Pesticide Management Bill 2020. This has been introduced in the Rajya Rabha on 23rd March 2020, after the Union Cabinet approved it a month before. After more than a year, in July 2021, the Bill has been referred to the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Agriculture for examination, as there were several critics on the Bill from Industry, Civil Society organisations, and experts.
Once passed, the new act will replace the half a century old Insecticide Act 1968 in India. The Bill intends to regulate the pesticide sector in the country and has several provisions to guide for constitution of central pesticide board, registration process, licensing, pricing, prohibition of pesticides, offenses and punishments. Unlike in earlier versions, the current bill has provisions (though vague) for monitoring pesticide poisoning and compensating legal heirs of the victims of pesticide poisoning, which is a welcoming development. However, the Bill does not seem to have addressed several critical issues and prevailing pesticide use scenario in the country, which will have profound impact on pesticide regulation, human health and environmental sustainability.
Commentary published in The Caravan
No Antidote : The new pesticide bill protects industry, not people or the environment.
The article discuss drawbacks of the Pesticide Management Bill 2020 and possible implications on agriculture, health and environment.
Parliamentary Standing Committee Report on the Bill
The parliamentary standing committee on agriculture released its report on the Pesticide Management Bill 2020 in December, 2021.
It sees the standing committee had considered merely superficial issues related to the bill, which were mostly pointed and criticized by the industry as possible hindrance to smooth business. None of the critical issues raised by PAN India were considered by the Standing committee.
The Pesticide Management Bill 2020
The Union Cabinet of India approved the new Pesticide Management Bill in February 2020. This Bill has pro- visions to regulate industry. However, it does not reflect critical prevailing issues, which are inevitable for reducing and mitigating risks arising from pesticide use. The Bill failed to address post registration risk reduction and mitigation, protection of pesticide users, community and environment. Therefore the Bill could have poor implications on protecting public health and environment; hence requires critical amendments.
PAN India demands critical amendments to PMB2020
In a memorandum submitted to the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Agriculture, PAN India demands critical amendments to the Pesticide Management Bill 2020. The proposed act should have addressed issues ensuring sustainable agriculture production without harming the environment, ensuring farmer and worker safety as well as safe food production, and gradually eliminating use of toxic pesticides by laying down a path towards wider adoption of non chemical pest management based on agroecology principles in realization of the precautionary principle and assuring the rights guaranteed by the Article 21 of the Constitution of India.
PMB2020 Fails to address critical prevailing issues in the country
The draft bill in its definitions states that ‘a bill to regulate pesticides including their manufacture, import, packaging, labeling, pricing, storage, advertisement, sales, transport, distribution, use and disposal in order to ensure availability of safe and effective pesticides, and to strive to minimize risk to human beings, animals, living organisms other than pests, and the environment with an endeavor to promote pesticides that are biological and based on traditional knowledge and for matters connected therewith or incidental thereto’. However, this definition and the provisions in the bill do not reflect a number of prevailing important issues. Some of the critical facts amongst others are discussed here.
Pesticide Management Bill 2020
The new Bill for regulating the pesticide sector, the Pesticide Management Bill 2020 has been presented in the Rajyasabha on 23rd March 2020. Once passed, the new act will replace the 50 year old Insecticide Act 1968
Pesticide Management Bill 2017
The Department of Agriculture Cooperation and Farmers Welfare made the draft bill available to stakeholders/public during the second half of February 2018.