As Kerala observed “Anti-Endosulfan Day” on Monday, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh reportedly told the Leader of the Opposition in the Assembly Oommen Chandy and Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee president Ramesh Chennithala that the Centre would consolidate opinions from various States before deciding on the request for a nationwide ban on the pesticide.
Dr. Singh told the two leaders, who met him here that requests for ban had come only from Kerala and Karnataka. The Centre would wait for the final report of the Indian Council for Medical Research (ICMR), which was studying the effects of Endosulfan, before considering the request. The Prime Minister said he would visit Kasaragod district, which has the most number of suspected victims of the pesticide, when he visits Kerala next time.
Talking to journalists after the meeting, Mr. Chandy said they requested Dr. Singh to issue directions to the ICMR to present its report within a time frame, as the effects of the chemical had caused harm to the people of Palakkad and Idukki districts too.
The Congress leaders wanted the Prime Minister to issue directions to officials to take a firm stand on banning the substance globally during discussions at Stockholm Convention on the use of Persistent Organic Pollutants, now being held in Geneva.
Members of the CPI(M)'s student and youth wings, Students Federation of India (SFI) and Democratic Youth Federation of India (DYFI), staged a protest here demanding a ban on Endosulfan. They also burnt an effigy of Dr. Singh.
The activists demanded that a tribunal be set up to ensure suitable compensation to the victims of Endosulfan in Karnataka and Kerala.
“Endosulfan is a neuro-toxin, a carcinogen and an endocrine disruptor,” they claimed and added that the chemical's use affected the reproductive system and thus children were born with deformities in the affected areas.
Thomas meets Manmohan
Union Minister of State for Agriculture K.V. Thomas met Dr. Singh and apprised him of the issue of Endosulfan. Before the meeting, Mr. Thomas, said: “I have handled this subject for a long time in the State and I am going to update the facts to the Prime Minister.”
Endosulfan was one of the cheapest pesticides that farmers use in horticulture crops. West Bengal was its largest consumer followed by Gujarat, the Minister informed the Prime Minister, informed sources said.