NHRC took suo motu cognisance of media reports alleging that use of pesticides is causing cancer to farmers
Jasleen Kaur | April 20, 2012
The Punjab government has banned the manufacture, import and use of pesticides which are injurious to health. It has also withdrawn registration of some pesticides in addition to restricting use of some other dangerous pesticides. It has also made arrangements for educating farmers on judicious use of pesticides as well as their healthcare.
NHRC had taken suo motu cognisance of media reports alleging that the disease of cancer among farmers in the Malwa region of Punjab is caused by the excessive use of pesticides on the crops and that due to non-availability of the cheap treatment of cancer in the region, about 70-100 cancer patients were going daily by train to Bikaner from Bathinda for free treatment and cheap medicines. These patients were mostly small farmers from the southern districts of Punjab including Bathinda, Faridkot, Moga, Muktsar, Ferozepur, Sangrur and Mansa coming under Malwa region. Governance Now had published a report titled 'The Cancer Train' which higlighted the Malwa farmers' plight in its February 1-15 issue.
The Punjab government has submitted a report to the commission on the same. The report by department of Health and Family Welfare accepted that the consumption of pesticides was on the higher side in Malwa region on account of growing of cotton crop. However, during the last 4-5 years, the consumption has reduced as the farmers have switched over to BT cotton, which requires only 20% of the pesticides used for earlier cotton varieties. The farmers are being trained on judicious use of pesticides even as some dangerous pesticides have been banned or their use has been restricted. The report also said that for providing cheap treatment for cancer, the Punjab government has taken steps which includes financial assistance to cancer patients belonging to BPL families. A fund of Rs 20 crore has been made available by the government of Punjab under the chief minister’s relief fund for treatment of cancer patients.
An amount of up to Rs 1.5 lakh is made available for treatment to every cancer patient, radiotherapy machine and cobalt unit have been started at Sri Guru Gobind Singh Medical College, Faridkot.
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