An expert panel that will be suggesting new guidelines to stop the widespread use of banned pesticides in vegetables and fruits will be given more time to submit its report, the Delhi High Court has said.
A division bench of Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul and Justice Vipin Sanghi was told by counsel Meera Bhatia, appearing for the central government, that the draft report was ready and was with the panel head for consideration.
Bhatia said the report would be filed in the court Nov 2, the next date of hearing.
The court Aug 17 sought a report from the committee for framing a policy for periodic checks to detect pesticide residue in vegetables that pose health hazards.
The court directed the government to constitute the committee after it took suo motu cognizance of a media report alleging use of banned pesticides.
The seven-member committee includes Sandhya Kulshrestha, secretary, central insecticide board and registration committee, and Sarita Bhalla, joint director of the agriculture ministry, as the committee's chairperson.
Other members are Dhir Singh, director of Food Safety and Standards Authority of India, N.K. Sharma, principal scientist in the agriculture ministry, S.M. Bhardwaj, food analyst at Delhi's department of food safety, Vipin Bhatnagar, joint director at plant protection quarantine and storage, and senior advocate V.K. Rao.
NGO Consumer Voice's report found that 35 varieties of vegetables and fruits, picked from Delhi markets and tested for pesticide content, had toxins beyond the permissible limits.
It told the court that vegetables and fruits sold in the city's markets contained poisons capable of causing cancer and harming the nervous system and liver.
The NGO said that the amount of pesticides used by farmers in India was as much as 750 times higher than European standards.