A three-day awareness drive was launched in Yavatmal district against pesticide poisoning with authorities distributing safety kits to be donned by farmers while spraying pesticides.
The district had seen several cases of pesticide poisoning last year following which Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis had ordered an inquiry.
Although the government had not specified the number of deaths that occurred last year, farm activists had said that 18 farmers had died due to pesticide exposure.
Collector Rajesh Deshmukh inaugurated the awareness drive and also demonstrated how to spray pesticides safely to avoid exposure to it.
Deshmukh said that over 50 per cent of the land was under cotton cultivation and attacks by pink bollworms had led to the reckless use of pesticides.
This, he claimed, had led to human deaths last year and the awareness drive was to ensure that there was no repeat of the issue this year.
“We have prepared a taluka-wise list and seed and pesticide manufacturing firms will send their representatives to these talukas to create awareness among farmers,” Deshmukh said.
He added that the state health department would also organise medical camps for farmers and farm labourers.
He visited the government medical college in Yavatmal to check on the five people who have been admitted there for pesticide poisoning.
Compensation for those who died of pesticide exposure in the district last year has been increased from Rs 2 lakh, as announced earlier, to Rs 4 lakh, officials said.