With reports of illegal cultivation of unapproved variety of transgenic cotton called HTBt cotton coming in from Maharashtra, Telangana and Gujarat, the government on Tuesday told the Lok Sabha that as many as 67 cases were being probed by police since 2017 in these states.

Highest number of such cases totalling to 40 were registered against suspects in Telangana, followed by 20 FIRs in Maharashtra and seven in Gujarat. “In addition to punitive actions, the state governments have alerted quality control inspectors and district authorities to be vigilant to the illegal production and sale of HT (herbicide-tolerant) cotton seeds,” said agriculture minister Narendra Singh Tomar in his written response to a Parliament question. As far as punitive actions are concerned, the Union agriculture minister shared that total 9,387 illegal cotton seed packets and 1,087 kg loose cotton seeds, worth over Rs 102 lakh, were confiscated from Nagpur, Chandrapur, Parbhani, Nandurbar, Yavatmal and Gadchiroli districts in Maharashtra.

Similarly in Gujarat, seven FIRs were registered against accused for selling HT cotton seeds in Vadodara, Kutch, Sabarkantha and Gir-Somnath districts, the minister informed the Lower House. Fourty cases have been registered and 44 persons have been arrested in Telangana since 2017. The police seized HT cotton seeds, worth Rs 907 lakh, in the state during 2017-19 period.