An agro-chemicals industry body has opposed penal provisions in the new Pesticides Management Bill, saying these do not differentiate between minor and major offences. The prices of pesticides should not be controlled as these are not essential commodities, the Crop Care Federation of India (CCFI) said.
Last month, the Union Cabinet approved the Pesticides Management Bill, 2020, to regulate the business of pesticides and compensate farmers in case of losses from usage of spurious agro-chemicals. The bill will be introduced in the ongoing session of Parliament. The main objective of the bill is to protect the interest of farmers and ensure they get safe and effective pesticides.
The CCFI said there are substantive changes in the bill from the draft law and, therefore, this bill needs a thorough review with the stakeholders. It demanded the bill should be referred to a Select Committee of Parliament for consultations.
"There are serious concerns with the new Pesticide Management Bill, which heightens the criminalisation of business operations, as there are penalties of up to Rs 50 lakh with an imprisonment up to 5 years or both, without differentiating between minor or major offences," it said.
Harish Mehta, Senior Advisor, the CCFI said, "There is no safeguard provision for the genuine manufacturer, who applies the product manufactured as per the regulatory framework formulated by a competent body like Registration Committee. Safeguard provisions are essential, otherwise over-criminalisation penalty will force manufacturers to shut their shop in India. No-one would take the risk of imprisonment for minor offences."
He said the bill should aim at reducing the criminalisation of business operations.
The CCFI said agrochemicals are not essential commodities and there is no merit in bringing these products under price control and creating new complexities in the system.
"Any efforts to unnecessarily price control the crop protection solutions in a competitive market would scare away those who are willing to provide better solutions for crop protection compared to an inefficient or less effective alternatives," it said.