The Delhi High Court on Wednesday stayed the implementation of the Union Government’s notification restricting the use of glyphosate through pest control operators (PCOS) for three months.

The High Court’s order came when it took up petitions filed by various crop protection associations. The industry associations such as CropLife India and Agro Chem Federation of India, among others, had petitioned the court against the Centre’s notification stating that there was no PCO infrastructure in the country and farmers will face challenges in weed management resulting in higher costs.

Last month, the Centre issued a notification restricting the use of glyphosate fearing health hazards. It said no person shall use it except the PCOs. Glyphosate is one of the widely used herbicides in the country to control weeds.

Infastructure issues

Industry sources said the Court also directed the Centre to go for consultations with all stakeholders to come out with a solution.

Durgesh C Sharma, Secretary-General, CropLife India, said, “Delhi High Court’s decision is favourable, taking in cognizance the infrastructure of PCOs in the country. There has been no incidence involving glyphosate and its restricted use will largely affect the small and marginal farmers”. Sharma said, “As per the Delhi High Court’s order and as a responsible association, we will continue to collaborate and work with the Government and all other stakeholders in order to find the most suitable solutions to ease the farming operations”.

Parikshit Mundhra, Chairman, Agro Chem Federation of India (ACFI), said his association lauded the Government for agreeing to consider reviewing the order of restricted use of glyphosate through pesticide operators. He said the industry is ready to provide all scientific details, and supporting documents to the government for a logical and fair decision looking at the reality and help for better cultivation. “Without having pest control operator (PCO) infrastructure in rural India, the notification for restricted use of glyphosate was really of no meaning. So today’s HC order is definitely logical and justified. The agriculture fraternity strongly wishes for the notification to be withdrawn as soon as possible” said Kalyan Goswami, Director General, ACFI.

Tea sector takes up issue

Besides the agrochemical industry association, the tea industry had also raised concerns over the new glyphosate use norms and had sought exemption from the notification. The Tea Board had recently written to the Commerce Ministry to take up the issue of exempting the tea industry from the glyphosate use norms with the Agriculture Ministry.

The Tea Board had said the unavailability of PCOs in a large number of remote locations will impact weed control leading to significant yield losses.

On the other hand, the pesticides handling personnel in tea gardens are already well-experienced and skilled squad using glyphosate for the last many years following the norms specified Plant Protection Code of Tea Board India. It suggested that pesticide handling personnel of tea plantations, who are trained by the scientific personnel of Tea Research Institutes, on the safe handling of glyphosate as per norms followed by the PCOs may be issued certificates duly recognised by Tea Board and tea plantations may be allowed to use the services of such trained personnel for application of glyphosate.