India on Thursday told the sixth meeting of the Persistent Organic Pollutants Review Committee (POPRC) of the Stockholm Convention going on at Geneva it would not prevent an international consensus on banning of Endosulfan pesticide as long as the its interests were protected and concerns reflected in the final declaration.
“We have to appear constructive and sensitive even as we fight for our national interest,’’ Minister of State for Environment and Forests said here.
While most of the governments represented at the Stockholm Convention are in favour of a global ban on Endosulfan, India is opposing it on the ground that it has no alternative available. And in case of a global ban, an alternative has to be provided.
“There is no support at all for delaying or deferring a decision. However, our concern that cost effective and safe alternatives need to be identified has been accepted and the consensus that has emerged is on listing Endosulfan but exemptions allowed for crop-pest combinations,’’ he said.
All exemptions sought by the Indian delegation are being included in the final declaration. These are valid for 5 years, with provision for renewal for another 5 years. The listing takes one year to become effective. This effectively means a phase out over 11 years.
“Taking note of our concern that work on identifying safe, cost effective alternatives is necessary to facilitate phase out, a decision will simultaneously be adopted asking the Technical POP Review committee to undertake this work and report to COP,’’ the Minister said.
We, of course, have the option to ratify this decision if and when we choose to do so, given the terms of our accession to this Convention, Mr Ramesh added. Such a decision will be subject to Cabinet approval.
Kerala has been strongly demanding a nation-wide ban on Endosulfan as it has been claimed that over 500 people have died and the health of thousands others adversely impacted due to the harmful effects of Endosulfan that is a commonly used pesticide. Some districts of Karnataka adjoining Kasargod – the most affected district in Kerala – have also reported harmful effects of Endosulfan, These two States have already banned the use of Endosulfan.
Government has already asked the Indian Council for Medical Research to conduct a study on the impacts of Endosulfan on human health, and will await its report before taking a final decision. All earlier committees have recommended against a ban.