Pesticides play an important role in sustaining agricultural production, and in controlling vectors responsible for diseases. However, on the flip side, they can be toxic. Therefore, what is needed is a top-notch mechanism to regulate the import, manufacture, sale, transport, distribution and use of insecticides with a view to preventing risk to human beings and animals. The Insecticides Act, 1968 was enacted to ensure this, until deficiencies in the statute caught the eye of several Parliamentary Committees and stakeholders.
The government said these loopholes include a lack of clarity on qualification for manufactures, sellers, stockists and commercial pest-control operators, larger representation of experts in the Central Pesticides Board and the Registration Committee, fixing tolerance limits of pesticides as a pre-condition of their registration, etc.
The Pesticides Management Bill of 2008, which is pending in Parliament, aims to cover this ground.
The statement of objects and reasons of the draft says that the proposed legislation, among others, intends to provide for an elaborate definition of pesticides to cover any substance of chemical or biological origin intended for preventing, destroying, repelling, mitigating or controlling any pest, including unwanted species of plants or animals, which will enable regulation of existing pesticides as well as new discoveries.
The statement says that the Bill proposes to address all aspects of development, regulation and quality monitoring, production, management, packaging, labelling, distribution, handling, application, use and control, including post-registration activities and disposal of all types of pesticides.
It would also define household pesticides, in order to prohibit their field applications and to enable delicensing of their retail sale for easy availability to the consumer. The Bill would provide for the effective and efficient working of the Central Pesticides Board and Registration Committee, fix tolerance limits of pesticides, detail the minimum qualification of licensees and accredit private laboratories to carry out any or all functions of the Central pesticides laboratory.
The Bill proposes stringent punishments to check production and sale of misbranded, sub-standard and spurious pesticides, besides, and most importantly, providing for the disposal of expired, sub-standard and spurious pesticides in an environment friendly and safe manner.