Balkrishna Khand, chief whip of Nepali Congress, speaks in parliament on Sunday. Dipesh Shrestha/Republica
KATHMANDU, July 8: The government’s decision to take a u-turn on conducting pesticide residue tests on imported fruits and vegetables from India and third countries at the customs points has drawn flak from both the ruling and opposition parties.
Lawmakers from the main opposition party, Nepali Congress, raised the issue both at the House of Representatives (HoR) and National Assembly (NA) meetings on Sunday, while criticizing the government for its failure to act tough to protect the health of the ordinary public.
Addressing the HoR meeting, Nepali Congress (NC) lawmaker Gagan Thapa criticized the government for backtracking from its decision.
Thapa said that the government had earlier taken the decision to conduct pesticides tests without necessary preparations, resulting in the disruption of supply of vegetables and fruits. Nevertheless, the people were ready to bear the brunt because it was the right decision, argued Thapa.
Thapa said people were expecting the government to stand by its decision and develop necessary infrastructures without any further delay to make it mandatory for all vegetables and fruits coming into the country to go through the test.
“Our government got bed-ridden just because there was slight cough from the other side,” he said, referring to India’s protest against the move.
Thapa also asked if the nationalistic credential of the government had been eroded with this decision.
“We had been taking in poisonous air without wearing masks to honor the words of the prime minister. We shall now be consuming fruits and vegetables that do not undergo any pesticide residue tests to honor the decision of the government,” he said in a satiric note in the parliament.
Speaking at the outset of the HoR meeting, NC Chief Whip Bal Krishna Khand alleged that the government had bowed down to the Indian pressure.
While asking the Speaker to direct the government to clarify the withdrawal decision, Khand said that the NC strongly objects to the government’s move as this adversely affects the health of the ordinary people.
Similarly, addressing the National Assembly meeting on Sunday, NC lawmaker Anita Devkota questioned the nationalistic credential of the government for backtracking from its own decision.
“What kind of farce is this, honorable chairman? The government itself took such decision and now it is backtracking itself. What kind of nationalism is this of the government that chanted highly nationalistic slogans and rhetoric during the election to withdraw its decision under pressure from someone?” she asked.
Devkota drew the attention of the government to implement the decision to conduct pesticide residue tests at the customs points as per the notice published in Nepal Gazette on July 17. She asked the government to tighten the import of fruits and vegetables that contain pesticide residue keeping in view the health of people.
NC’s sister organizations Nepal Tarun Dal and Nepal Students Union also protested against the decision of the government to backtrack from its earlier decision to conduct pesticide residue tests of vegetables and fruits.
Earlier on Thursday, the ruling Nepal Communist Party (NCP) lawmakers during their parliamentary party meeting had questioned if the government bowed down before India’s pressure. They had also taken strong exception to the decision coming from a government that had earned nationalistic credential.