A bill to be tabled in Parliament is set to re-ignite an old tussle between the Centre and states. The Pesticides Management Bill of 2008, which will be heard in the Monsoon Session, aims to replace grand old Insecticides Act of 1968. It will regulate a wider range of chemicals, including weedicides and fungicides along with insecticides.
States like Kerala have been demanding that management of pesticides should be a state subject. In November last year, the then state agriculture minister M Retnakaran wrote to Union agriculture minister Sharad Pawar to this effect. “Since states are held accountable for problems arising out of misuse of pesticides they must be given the power to take punitive action and award compensation in case of violation of the Act,” noted Retnakaran’s letter. It further said states should be given the power to decide on which pesticides to manufacture, use, sell and ban. Kerala government is currently fighting a case in the high court filed by cardamom planters after it permanently banned two categories of pesticides—extremely poisonous and highly poisonous.