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600 Maharashtra Farmers Affected By Pesticide Poisoning, 20 Killed, 25 Blinded

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| October 8 , 2017 , 13:36 IST

The woes of farmers seem unending; crippled by loans, unsteady rainfall and faltering crops. In addition to the other difficulties, 600 farmers in Maharashtra's Vidarbha region fell victim to pesticide poisoning, out of which 20 died and 25 others were left blind.

Using a new formula for pesticide, most of the farmers reportedly were not wearing protective gear while spraying and were poisoned by the pesticide which did not have any antidotes. In the wake of the wide-spread poisoning in the Vidarbha region, 5 privately owned Krishi Seva Kendra owners have been booked for selling the pesticides without protective gear.  

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The farmers affected by the pesticide inhalation had symptoms ranging from blurred vision, nausea, skin rashes, headaches and dizziness. While 20 died, many others lost their sight and a month later, more than 100 farmers are still recovering at the Yavatmal district hospital.

Former Vice-Chancellor of Dr Panjabrao Deshmukh Agriculture University, Dr Sharad Nimbalkar, said, "Most of the new molecules available in the market don't have specific antidotes mentioned. It has been written on most of the pesticides that there is no specific antidote but treat symptomatically."

Maharashtra Agriculture Minister Pandurang Fundkar admitted the failure of the government in taking timely action in the matter, blaming the district administration for not informing the state government about the situation.

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Meanwhile, Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis has ordered an inquiry into the deaths and announced Rs 2 lakh compensation to each of the families of the deceased farmers.

The government is also taking steps to regulate the sale of pesticides so that pesticides reach the farmers only after clearing safety checks and that the farmers use specified protective gear while spraying the pesticides.

Although the government is taking cognisance of the incident, the farmers that were blinded have more difficult times ahead of them as they strive to make a living without being able to see.