The Centre has asked the Supreme Court to allow the use of pesticide endosulfan in all States except Kerala and Karnataka, as these States are ready to use it for agricultural pest control.

The Supreme Court in May last year banned the production and sale of endolsulfan in the country. In April this year, it asked the Centre to ascertain the quantity of raw material lying with three companies (producers of the banned pesticide endosulfan) and the manner in which the raw material could be disposed of.

The Centre responded in an affidavit that “the cost of disposal of live stock of endosulfan by incineration shall be more than Rs.210.82 crore, whereas phasing out would not only result in saving this huge amount on disposal but would also save the product worth Rs.31.36 lakh, which would contribute to increased crop production/productivity.”

It said that “24 countries are still using endosulfan. The international conventions and global practices also suggest phasing out. The FAO also recommends disposal of live stock of pesticides through phasing out by its judicious use as per good agricultural practices for crop protection purposes.”

The Centre said that “in India too use of several pesticides was banned in the past and the live stocks thereof were allowed to be disposed of by phasing out. Of the 19 States which participated in the meeting convened by the expert committee, except Kerala and Karnataka, other States were in favour of [the] continued use of endosulfan for the reasons being broad spectrum, cheaper, most popular among farmers, safe to pollinations, no reports of resistance/resurgence or ill effects on human beings, animals and environment.Thus, States other than Kerala and Karnataka are ready to use endosulfan for agricultural pest control.”

The Centre referred to the Stockholm Convention held last year which had advised the phasing out of the pesticide over a five-year period.” Thus, the use of endosulfan, which has not expired, may be allowed in India so as to exhaust the existing stock of raw materials and finished products. As per international practice, products are phased out by making an advance announcement of the cut off dates for import or manufacture.”