A delegation from Kerala demands nationwide ban on pesticide
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Friday assured an all-party delegation from Kerala, led by its Health and Social Welfare Minister P.K. Sreemathy, that the Centre would await the report of the Indian Council for Medical Research (ICMR) before deciding further on the request to ban Endosulfan nationwide.
He reminded the delegates that the Kerala government had already banned the pesticide in 2005. Dr. Singh said during his next visit to Kerala, he would visit Kasaragod district to see and interact with the victims suspected to be affected by the use of the pesticide in cashew plantations.
Meanwhile, Union Minister of State for Environment and Forests Jairam Ramesh said that Endosulfan would be banned if its adverse effect on health was proved.
“If there is evidence to show that it has all-India health effects, we will ban it at the national level.” However Mr. Ramesh claimed that Endosulfan was a broad spectrum pesticide and there were no other cost-effective alternatives to it as yet. He knew about the disaster in Kasaragod and had asked for more evidence. “Some people say there are other districts in Karnataka, which have also been affected. I am very sensitive to this issue,” he said.
Ms. Sreemathy, justifying the need for banning Endosulfan at the all-India level, told journalists that the delegation pointed out to the Prime Minister that there was enough evidence from the experience of Kasaragod to prove that the pesticide would cause irreparable damage to the environment and human beings exposed to it. An earlier study of the ICMR had proved this and “we strongly believe that there is no need for dragging on the matter in the name of further study.”
Eighty-one countries had either banned Endosulfan or decided to phase out its use. The delegation wanted Dr. Singh to give appropriate instructions so that India took a strong stand against Endosulfan and sought its ban during the April 25 discussion on Stockholm convention on the use of persistent organic pollutants to be held in Geneva.
“During the last round of discussions, India had taken a stand against the ban on Endosulfan, which had caused widespread anger and criticism in India, especially among victims in Kerala who are fighting for their rights and rehabilitation,” she said.
The 13-member delegation comprised Kerala Water Resources Minister N.K. Premachandran, Devaswom Minister Kadannapally Ramachandran, Forests and Housing Minister Benoy Viswom and Transport Minister Jose Thettayil; C.T. Ahamed Ali and A.K. Saseendran (IUML); Thalekunnil Basheer (Congress); P.C. Thomas (Kerala Congress-AMG); V. Muraleedharan (BJP), Joy Abraham (Kerala Congress M), A.N. Rajan Babu (JSS) and Dr. Varghese George (Socialist Janata (Democratic). LDF MPs from Kerala will stage a dharna in Parliament complex on April 26 seeking a ban on Endosulfan and later present a memorandum to Dr. Singh.