Agri Business

Fearing action, Maharashtra farmer uproots HTBT cotton

Radheshyam Jadhav Pune | Updated on September 17, 2019 Published on September 17, 2019

A farmer in Wardha district uprooted herbicide-tolerant Bt (HTBT) cotton crop in his field after the government threatened to file a criminal case against him under Section 15(1) of the Environment Protection Act, 1986. However, Shetkari Sanghatana has said the organisation will stand firm with those who have planted HTBT cotton and want to protect the crop.

About 25 per cent of the cotton fields in the State have reportedly been put under HTBT cultivation this season.

Govt ultimatum

Gajanan Chikram of Gaimukh village received a notice from Taluka Agriculture Officer in Selu stating that the Indian Council of Agriculture Research (ICAR), Nagpur, had confirmed that the cotton planted by him is HTBT (BG-III). The notice asked the farmer to uproot the crop within 24 hours or else face criminal action. If the State decides to go ahead, about 25 per cent cotton crop in the State will have to be destroyed.

According to Shetkari Sanghatana President Anil Ghanwat the farmer uprooted the crop after receiving the notice. “This is the first case. The Sanghatana will stand firm with farmers who have cultivated HTBT cotton and will launch an agitation to protect the crop,” he told BusinessLine. Ghanwat said the organisation anticipates similar notices to other farmers. He added that any effort by the State government to destroy HTBT cotton crop would be strongly resisted. State farmers under the banner of Shetkari Sanghatana had launched a drive to sow HTBT cotton in June this year to protest the Centre’s ban on GM crops.

FIRs filed

On the basis of complaints filed by agriculture officers, the police has been registering FIRs against farmers under Section 420 of IPC, Section 15(1) of the Environment Protection Act, 1986 and Seeds Act, 1966. Two farmers, Lalit Bahale and Laxmikant Kauthakar, have already moved the high court to get the FIRs quashed.

The Nagpur bench of Bombay High Court, last month asked the Maharashtra police not to take “coercive action” against the farmers who have sowed HTBT cotton seeds.

Published on September 17, 2019

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