Kathmandu, July 8
Minister of Industry, Commerce and Supplies Matrika Prasad Yadav has accused government secretaries of misleading him while taking the decision not to let vegetables imported from India or third countries cross the border without pesticide tests.
At a press meet today, Yadav admitted that he took a proposal to the Cabinet while being ignorant of the capacity of quarantine.
“I was unaware that our quarantine does not meet international standards of testing pesticides. I tabled the proposal requiring mandatory test of pesticide residue in imported vegetable before the Cabinet on the basis of briefing given to me by the commerce secretary. Cabinet immediately approved it,” he said.
He admitted to lack of proper coordination between the Ministry of Industry, Commerce and Supplies and the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock Development.
“Sometimes I simply rely on my secretaries before taking any decision, which is what happened in this case,” he added.
Refuting allegations that the government revoked its decision on testing imported vegetables for pesticide residue under pressure, he said, “I didn’t even know about the letter received from the Indian embassy. The decision was taken after it was realised that we simply didn’t have the required equipment to test all kinds of pesticide residue in the country.”
He claimed that the decision to test pesticide residue in imported vegetables had been just put off and tests would resume after upgrading facilities.
Industry Secretary Yam Kumari Khatiwada said before taking the issue to the Cabinet, the MoICS had held discussion with MoALD representatives. “Had they told us about the lack of quarantine capacity of our labs, we would have shelved the plan of conducting pesticide residue tests,” she added.
However, Yubak Dhoj GC, secretary at MoALD, said the agriculture ministry was never directly involved in the matter. “The commerce ministry is trying to pass the buck on us. We did not have anything to do with either submission of the proposal to the Cabinet or withdrawal of the decision to conduct tests,” he told THT over phone. According to him, the MoALD never received any letter on the issue from the MoICS. He claimed that he had never participated in any discussion held by the commerce ministry on the matter.
MoICS Secretary Kedar Bahadur Adhikari, who was directly involved in the process of submitting the proposal to test pesticides in imported vegetables to the Cabinet, did not respond to attempts to contact him.
A version of this article appears in print on July 09, 2019 of The Himalayan Times.