Writ at SC against govt for backtracking from decision to test veggies for pesticide

KATHMANDU: A writ has been filed at the Supreme Court against the government for rolling back its earlier decision to check for permitted levels of pesticides in vegetables and fruits imported from India, at the border.

Advocates Swagat Nepal and Narayan Prasad Duwadi filed the Public Interest Litigation (PIL) at the apex court today. Speaking to THT Online, Advocate Nepal informed that the PIL calls for the Supreme Court to issue an order which directs the government to test the fruits and vegetables imported from India, as well as those produced locally, to determine the permissible levels of chemicals before they are sent to the market for public consumption.

Advocate Nepal stressed that the notice was filed because the government's decision had put fundamental rights of Nepali citizens -- including consumer rights and right to health -- at risk. He said, the decision to not check for pesticides would especially affect maternal & child health and child development, among others, extending the negative impact of the decision to the next generation.

He expressed his opinion that either the government should be able to bring technology that can test for harmful pesticides or not bring untested fruits and vegetables into the market at all, to ensure public health.

Advocate Nepal stated that the writ has been filed on behalf of the Independent National Campaign of which he is the central coordinator. Advocate Duwadi, the other petitioner, is the chairperson of Independent National Lawyers Campaign.

Meanwhile, Assistant Spokesperson at the Supreme Court of Nepal, Devendra Dhakal, confirmed that three separate writs have been filed at the apex court including the aforementioned one. Two other writs have been filed -- one by an individual Kanchan Krishna Neupane and the other by Bishnu Timalsina of Consumer Protection Forum (Upabhokta Samrakshan Manch).

After receiving immense pressure from traders, the Ministry of Industry, Commerce and Supplies (MoICS) had revoked its decision to check for pesticides in vegetables imported from India. During a cabinet meeting held on July 4, the ministry had backtracked from its decision citing lack of technical preparations and pressure from traders. Pesticide testing of imported vegetables had started from June 18.