KATHMANDU, July 10: Nepal Student Union, a student wing of the main opposition party Nepali Congress has begun a campaign for collecting Rs 1 per person to build labs for testing pesticides residue on fruits and vegetables imported from India and other third countries.
The protest campaign—with the slogan the government can allocate more than a billion rupees for hosting IIFA Awards but cannot build labs for testing pesticides residue in imported vegetables–follows the government’s decision to withdraw pesticides test on Indian imported vegetables citing lack of labs and lab equipment on border customs.
The government on June 17 made it mandatory to conduct pesticide residue test on the imported fruits and vegetables before allowing them to enter Nepal. However, two weeks later the government put the pesticide testing on hold until further arrangements following the pressure from the Indian Embassy.
On June 26, the Indian Embassy in Kathmandu had written to the government authorities requesting to lift the mandatory test requirements on vegetables and fruits imported from India after several Indian trucks carrying the fruits and vegetables were left stuck for days at various border points.
But the government faced criticism for backtracking its decision on Indian pressure and prioritizing Indian concerns over public health.
Later, Minister for Industry, Commerce and Supply, Matrika Prasad Yadav clarified that the decision was not withdrawn following the mounting Indian pressure but due to the lab issues.
Minister Yadav also accepted that the ministry committed a mistake making the pesticide test mandatory without first preparing the lab equipment.
Photo: Mukunda Kalikote