KATHMANDU, July 9: Minister for Industry, Commerce and Supplies Matrika Prasad Yadav has said that the government rolled back its decision to conduct pesticide residue tests on fruits and vegetables imported from India and third countries after it was found that the customs points were ill-equipped and not due to pressure from India as being reported.
Yadav, while responding to queries from lawmakers in the National Assembly on Monday, said that none of the customs points at present have labs to carry out such tests.
He said that the lab at the Department of Food Technology and Quality Control (DOFTQC) is the only lab with all necessary equipment to hold the tests at present. He added that the agriculture ministry, the line ministry overseeing agriculture, itself lacks the labs to conduct test.
“But it's (the lab) in Kathmandu,” Yadav told MPs.
Yadav's statement on labs contradicted the statement made on the previous day by Minister for Agriculture Chakrapani Khanal. Khanal on Sunday told the National Assembly that all provinces except for the Karnali Province have labs to conduct such tests.
Yadav admitted to mistakes on his part and claimed that he was led to believe that the customs points were capable of conducting such tests due to misreporting by government secretaries.
In a press conference organized at his office later in the day, Yadav apologized for taking the decision without required preparations and information on the matter.
Yadav fired back at the main opposition Nepali Congress for unnecessarily politicizing the issue.
Yadav's comments come at a time when the government is being widely criticized 'for bowing down to India'. Media reports show that the Indian side had expressed reservations over plans to conduct the pesticide residue tests just before the government backtracked on its decision. Since the government withdrew the decision last Thursday, both leaders from the ruling parties and opposition have criticized the government. A day after the main opposition NC slammed the government, the National Human Rights Commission on Monday expressed concerns over the decision arguing that it could have an adverse impact on public health.