KATHMANDU, July 10: Minister for Industry, Commerce and Supply, Matrika Prasad Yadav clarified that the government did not withdraw the decision to conduct pesticide residue test on fruits and vegetables imported from India due to the pressure from Indian Embassy.
On June 17, the government made it mandatory to conduct the pesticide residue test on the fruits and vegetables imported from Indian before allowing them into Nepal. However, on July 4, the Council of Ministers decided to put the pesticide testing on hold until further arrangements.
But the government faced criticisms for withdrawing its decision to conduct compulsory pesticide residue test under Indian pressure since the decision came after the Indian Embassy in Kathmandu on June 26 dispatched a letter to government authorities requesting to lift the test requirements after several Indian trucks carrying fruits and vegetables were left stuck for days at various border points.
Moreover, many stakeholders have also expressed serious concern over the government’s move saying this is a matter of public health.
But the government has insisted that the decision was put on hold due to lab issues and the lack of technical preparations.
“The government decided to put off the pesticide residue test on vegetables imported from India and other third countries due to the lack of equipment at custom points, not because of pressure from India,” said Minister Yadav in a television interview Janata Janna Chahanchan broadcast on Prime Times Television.
“It was a mistake and an immature decision to instruct the border authorities to carry out pesticide test on vegetables and fruits without checking the capacity first.”
“The secretaries did not tell me that we lacked capacity. They did not inform me properly. They kept me in dark. I trusted them but I was wrong. I, as a minister, take responsibility for the mistake.”
“I have learned a lesson now. I will never sign a proposal without studying it thoroughly.”
“The decision has been put on hold for now. First, let us build our capacity.”
According to him, the government will build advanced labs in the required custom points as soon as possible.
On the inquiry if he did not read the statement received the Indian Embassy, he said: ”No, I didn’t receive the letter. I haven’t read it. I received it only this morning.”
“The Indian Embassy did not pressure us. Yes, I met Envoy Manjeev Singh Puri. But we didn’t discuss it.”
“The ministry took the decision independently.”
When asked will not the recent decision affect public health, he said,” Did Matrika Yadav allowed the untested vegetables? Were people eating pure organic before?”
“Why are they making the issue worse?”
“The government is totally aware of public health concerns.”
“We should not run after the baseless rumors.”
When asked will the secretaries face action for their mistakes, he said: “No, they won’t. Neither they will face action nor they will be transferred.”