1 The Killing Fields Farmer deaths due to exposure to pesticides in Warangal District Report of the Fact-finding Team Toxics Link Sarvodaya Youth Organisation Centre for Resource Education Community Health Cell January 2002. The Killing Fields Farmer deaths due to exposure to pesticides in Warangal District Report of the Fact-finding Team Toxics Link Sarvodaya Youth Organisation Centre for Resource Education Community Health Cell January 2002. THE FACT-FINDING TEAM. P. DAMODER, Sarvodaya Youth Organisation, Warangal RAJESH RANGARAJAN, Toxics Link Chennai REDDY, Centre for Resource Education, Hyderabad MADHUMITA DUTTA, Toxics Link, New Delhi Dr. RAJAN PATIL, Epidemiologist, Community Health Cell, Bangalore S. NAGASENA REDDY, AP High Court Advocate, Hyderabad S. ABITHA, Media Professional, Chennai The team was accompanied to the field for assisting in translation and other support by: MR.
2 BHASKAR, SPACE, Warangal and MS. SUBHASHINI, Rudhramadevi Women s Welfare Group, Warangal. ABOUT PARTICIPATING ORGANISATIONS. Toxics Link is an information-clearing house on environmental-toxicity related issues. It is a group that exchanges information with experts, organisations and individuals working on Toxics in India. Toxics Link has offices in New Delhi, Mumbai and Chennai Toxics Link New Delhi: H-2, Ground Floor, Jungpura Extension, New Delhi 110014. Phone: 011-4320711, 4328006. Email: Toxics Link Chennai: 8, Fourth Street, Venkateshwara Nagar, Adayar, Chennai 600020. Phone: 044-4460387, 4914358. Email: Toxics Link Mumbai: 4t h floor, CVOD Jain School, 84, Samuel Street, Mumbai 400009. Phone: 022-3752050, 3759657. Email: Sarvodaya Youth Organisation is a voluntary organisation working on agricultural issues in rural areas. It also has done extensive work on consumer and environmental issues.
3 Sarvodaya Youth Organisation, 6-1-76/A, opposite Sridevi theatre, Hanamkonda, Warangal 506001 Phone: 08712-567084. Centre for Resource Education is a voluntary organisation based in Hyderabad working on issues related to agriculture, sustainable development, environmental protection and other related rural and urban issues. Centre for resource education, 201, Maheshwari complex, Masab tank, Hyderabad-500034. Phone: 040-6613367, 6621571 Email: Community Health Cell is a professional group comprising of doctors, epidemiologists and other health professionals, that specialises in offering technical support on health-related scientific studies. Community Health Cell, 67, Jakkasandra, 1st Main, 1st Block, Koramangala, Bangalore-560034 Phone: 080-5531518, 5525372 Email: ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS. The team would like to thank, Global Green Grants for funding the study of the fact-finding team Mr.
4 Bhaskar and Ms. Subhashini for assisting the team in translating from the local language for better communication. The local media for covering the event Ravi Agarwal and Kishore Wankhade of Toxics Link for their comments and inputs in the report. Design by Splash Communications; Production by Kriti Creations The Killing Fields of Warangal P. esticide consumption in agriculture has been on the rise in the last 10 to 15 years in India. Pesticides are used extensively in crops such as cotton, paddy, chillies, horticulture, tobacco, etc. They are also used for public health purposes, like growing steadily in the past seven years, from 1,500 ha in 1970-73 to 88,000 ha in 1997. In the upland rain-fed conditions, cotton can be sown at any time between June to September. But if the sowings are delayed beyond first fortnight of June, BACKGROUND. vector control for diseases like malaria, yields are likely to reduce drastically.
5 Though dengue, Kala azar However, little attention cotton cultivation has spread rapidly to is given to their long term impact on the almost all the districts of Andhra Pradesh, environment and human beings. there is wide variation in productivity levels Cotton is cultivated in more than 8 and economic returns from region to million hectares in India, concentrated in region and from year to year, mainly due five states of Maharashtra, Gujarat, to the agricultural practices and natural Andhra Pradesh, Punjab and Rajasthan. conditions. This variability is gnawing the Cotton is a crop which is presently economy of the farmers and has been the deciding the fate of more number of cause of distress, suicides and deaths in farmers in Andhra Pradesh than before. the villages of Andhra Pradesh, particularly Since 1990, cotton has been the cause of in Warangal district during the past four suicide deaths by farmers in several districts years.
6 Of Andhra Pradesh, with the number of Warangal district, in the dryland region suicides increasing every year. of Andhra Pradesh, has emerged as one In 1997-98, the area under cotton of the main cotton growing areas in the cultivation in Andhra Pradesh was country next to Guntur district. This year lakh hectares (ha). Among the three (2001-2002), cotton was sown in an area regions of Andhra Pradesh, acreage under estimated to be more than 2,50,000 acres. cotton in the coastal Andhra Pradesh was Cotton as a crop is now considered as a 2,28,258 ha, in Rayalaseema it was 70,061 boon by the farmers. According to the ha and in Telangana region it was 1,51,750 office of the Joint Director of Agriculture ha respectively. Cotton cultivation is (JDA), Warangal, this district makes a relatively a new phenomenon in Warangal substantial contribution to cotton district. The acreage under cotton has been production in Andhra Pradesh.
7 It is only PAGE 1. BACKGROUND. in the last decade that Warangal has come due to the elimination of the predators. cotton crop. under the Cotton Belt. Farmers, be it Contamination of natural resources due The information was brought to light small, marginal or large, have shifted to to pesticide and chemicalisation of by Mr. Sarampalli Malla Reddy, State cotton primarily due to expectation of agriculture has lead to adverse impacts on Secretary of AP Raithu Sangham, who had good returns it brings from the agricultural ecology and environment. In recent years seen the hospital records showing deaths market the white gold. impact on human beings by these deadly caused by spraying of pesticides. However, cotton is a crop that has chemicals are coming to the fore. Recent Commissioner of Agriculture, become synonymous with pests and farmers deaths in Warangal district of Sharma s oral enquiries from his pesticides right throughout the growing Andhra Pradesh is one such instance.
8 Department sources in Warangal confirmed season from July to January. At the Andhra Pradesh as a forefront State in this report. (Annex no. III). preliminary stage, comes the sucking adopting green revolution techniques of To ascertain the authenticity of the insects, followed by the most common agricultural production has been the report, Toxics Link and Centre for Bollworms (Green and Pink) of the Genii largest consumer of chemical fertilizers Resource Education visited the villages on Heliothis and Helicoverpa which devastate and pesticides for important commercial 23 and 24th October, 2001, along with Mr. cotton crops. To obviate this problem, crops like cotton, green chillies, tobacco, D a m o d a r o f S a r v o d a y a Yo u t h farmers have to invest heavily on pesticides vegetables, and grapes. Importantly, Organisation. Information was collected and insecticides in order to get optimum cotton has been the single most crop from family members of the victims and yield.
9 Normal yield ranges from 5 10 which requires heavy application of also from Reddy of AP. quintals per acre1 . chemical pesticides. Such expensive inputs Raithu Sangham in Warangal district. The It is officially estimated that this crop have also been the scourge for farmers, visit confirmed the deaths due to pesticides season over 600 metric tons (active who are already in grave financial situation spraying. A copy of the report is annexed ingredients) of pesticides were used in due to un-remunerative prices, and (Annex no. IV). Warangal district alone, at an estimated pernicious policies of the government. Meanwhile, the issue was sidelined as cost of crores. Cotton farmers have been committing one of over-zealousness of farmers and The ill effects of prolonged use of suicides in the State for the past three to lack of understanding about handling pesticides are many.
10 But three most four years. Warangal district has shot into procedures by the government agencies. important effects of prolonged use of limelight because of such suicides. This issue, still hasn t merited the attention pesticides are: large-scale Killing of the other However, recently, AP Raithu Sangham, a of the government, media or civil society. beneficial organisms; quick resistance farmer s organisation with a state-wide Though the victim families were entitled development by the pests to the pesticide; network brought into limelight deaths of to compensation under Apathbandhu 2. and, the uncontrolled growth of the pests farmers while applying pesticides on scheme of the government, it has not been granted. Detailed forensic reports are awaited from the Forensic Lab in Map of Warangal District Hyderabad. Preliminary discussions with farmers, Report of the Fact-Finding Team, January 2002.