Ruling Left Democratic Front (LDF) has decided to observe a dawn-to-dusk hartal across the State on April 29 to press for a total ban on production and use of Endosulfan.

The LDF State committee, which held an urgent session here on Tuesday, decided to organise the hartal to coincide with conclusion of the conference of parties to the Stockholm Convention currently on in Geneva. The alliance has sought the support of the entire population of Kerala for the hartal, which it described as a non-partisan initiative in everybody’s interest. Hospitals and distribution of milk and newspapers have been exempted from the hartal. Two wheelers would also be allowed to ply on the day.

Briefing reporters after the LDF panel meeting, alliance convener Vaikom Viswan came down heavily on what he termed the Centre’s ‘negative’ attitude towards the State’s collective demand for a ban on Endosulfan and its refusal to join the nations across the world for a global ban on the pesticide which had wrought havoc in the lives thousands of people across the country.

The Centre, he said, was trying to buy time in the name of further studies to confirm the ill-effects of the pesticide. The negative consequences of Endosulfan use was already evident in Kasaragod district in Kerala and parts of Tamil Nadu and other parts of the country. Several studies had also pointed to the link between Endosulfan and the genetic deformities arising from its widespread use. What the Centre should have done in the face of all this evidence was to ban use of the chemical pesticide. But what it had done was to resist a global ban on Endosulfan at the Geneve conference, he pointed out.

Mr. Viswan brushed aside the Opposition criticism that the LDF and Chief Minister V. S. Achuthanandan was striking a high moral ground after having done nothing to prevent use of the pesticide. The campaign against Endosulfan had begun in 2000 and, on assuming office, the LDF government had banned use of Endosulfan in the State, taken steps for rehabilitation of the Endosulfan victims by paying pension to all the victim families and provided the victims with medical care. It was now left to the Centre to ban its production and use across the country, he pointed out.

When pointed out that the Central public sector company that produced Endosulfan was located in the State, the LDF convener said the State government would have to examine what could be done about the company which, in any case, employed only a few hands. Asked whether there was any plan to hold an all party meeting on the Endosulfan issue, he said such a meeting could be called if the need arose.

He did not also see any divergence in the perceptions of the LDF and the Sharad Pawar-led Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) State unit, a constituent of the ruling alliance, on the issue. The NCP State unit had adopted a resolution demanding ban on Endosulfan, Mr. Viswan said.