Truth alone triumphs
Source: N/A, Date: August , 2010
In adversaries lie opportunities! It’s been over eight years since Toxics Link’s began its struggle and protest against the pesticides use by bringing forth a report on the use of pesticides by farmers, which caused around 500 farmer deaths in the Warangal district of Andhra Pradesh.
Pesticide consumption in agriculture has been on the rise since the last 20 years in India. Pesticides are used extensively in crops such as cotton, paddy, chilies, horticulture, tobacco, etc. They are also used for public health purposes like vector control for diseases like malaria, dengue, and so forth. However, little attention had been given to their long-term impact on the environment and human beings. The situation was even graver when the report was published in 2002 stating facts.
The report investigated into the harmful effects of pesticides on farmers in the Warangal district of Andhra Pradesh and has been a collaborative effort of Toxics Link, Sarvodaya Youth Organisation, Centre for Resource Education, and Community Health Cell.
The catastrophe that occurred with the wide use of pesticides in the district might not be as high as the Union Carbide gas leakage issue in Bhopal but the gravity of the situation was same.
Just like any other oppressed-oppressor struggle, the issue too caught attention of Pesticides manufacturing company Crop Care Foundation, a consortium of pesticide manufacturing companies earlier known as Pesticides Associations of India, which compelled them to file a defamation case against all those who brought the information out in the public domain.
The fact-finding team consisted of representatives of diverse organizations that are deeply involved with agricultural issues in rural areas, sustainable development, environmental protection and related public health issues. This included representatives of Toxics Link (New Delhi), Community Health Cell (Bangalore) and Sarvodaya Youth Organization (Warangal).
After eight years of persistent struggle, on July 20th 2010, a two Judge bench of the Supreme Court of India quashed the criminal defamation case against 11 activists initiated by the Crop Care Federation (a consortium of pesticide manufacturing companies earlier known as Pesticides Associations of India) in the Magistrate Court of Warangal for publishing the report.
In its judgment, the Honorable Court observes, “The general tenor of the report indicates that the report meant to focus the harmful effects of exposure to pesticides. It is quite evident from the report that it was not meant to harm, hurt or defame any individual or the manufacturing company”.
This SLAPP (Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation) type litigation, brought upon by one section of pesticide industries, was filed in Warangal and the Warangal court had also issued non-bailable arrest warrants against some of the accused, in 2007, after Andhra Pradesh High Court had dismissed the appeal to quash the proceedings.
This is the first time that the Pesticide manufacturers, who have been filing many civil and criminal defamation cases against environmentalists, for speaking or writing on pesticides, have lost.
This month’s newsletter shares the happiness of the success with its readers.