There is no scientific basis to link use of fertilisers and pesticides to cancer, Union Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar said in the Lok Sabha on Tuesday.
Mr Tomar said this during Question Hour in response to remarks by two Punjab lawmakers – Ravneet Singh Bittu and Bhagwant Mann – that “exponential rise” in cancer cases in Punjab was due to excessive use of fertiliser with patients from the state travelling to Bikaner by a train which is commonly referred to as ”Cancer Train”.
He said the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), quoting the Cancer Registry of Punjab, has said the incidence of cancer was 100-110 for every 100,000 individuals which is almost equal to the national average.
“The Punjab government has also reported that the consumption of fertiliser has no link with prevalence of cancer in Punjab,” he said.
The minister said the central government supplements the efforts of the state governments to prevent and control cancer and to provide affordable and accessible care.
“The Punjab government has not joined the central scheme of Aayushman Bharat, under which free cancer treatment upto Rs. 5 lakh can be availed. I request the honourable members to ask the Punjab government to join the Aayushman Bharat programme,” he said.
Union Food Processing Minister Harsimrat Kaur Badal, who hails from Punjab, also supported Tomar, claiming that the Punjab government has stopped funds to a multi-speciality hospital in the state.
The Union Agriculture Minister said the National Programme for Prevention and Control of Cancer, Diabetes, Cardiovascular Diseases and Stroke (NPCDCS) is being implemented for interventions up to
the district level which includes awareness generation for Cancer prevention, screening, early detection and referral to an appropriate level institution for treatment.
“Strengthening of Tertiary Care Cancer facilities Scheme is being implemented to support setting up of State Cancer Institutes (SCI) and Tertiary Care Cancer Centres (TCCC) in different parts of the country.”
“The government is making efforts to promote judicious use of fertilisers with the cooperation of state governments,” he said.