The Joint Expert Committee has informed the Supreme Court on Tuesday that to exhaust the available stocks of the raw material, manufacture and use of endosulfan pesticide (which has now been banned) may be permitted for a period of two years.

In its report submitted before a Bench of Justices Swatanter Kumar and Madan B Lokur the Committee said “India is a signatory to the Stockholm Convention and Rotterdam Convention and is committed to discontinue the use of endosulfan over the next five years. The Committee noted that almost all the countries which have banned endosulfan have a phase out plan by its use in agriculture over a period of two to six years. Such phasing out plan has ensured that all the stocks available in the country are utilised and exhausted completely in a desirable time frame.”

It said “The Ministry of Agriculture informed that in India, if no further import of raw material is allowed the existed stocks should be depleted within a period of two years after its manufacture. The manufacturing and marketing companies should be asked to ensure to completely exhaust the available raw material during this period and ensure that this pesticide is fully utilised in accordance with label claim and good agricultural practices for pest control.”

Justifying the use of endosulfan the committee said “many other pesticides are in use which also shows somewhat similar health/biological effects as with endosulfan. Therefore phasing out endosulfan appears to be the most viable plan.’

The court during the hearing of a writ petition filed by Democratic Youth Federation of India appointed the expert committee. The court had imposed the ban in May last year. The committee was asked to give a report on various aspects including how to dispose the existing raw materials/formulations, stocks of endosulfan, whether it could be allowed to be used or not.

The Committee in its report felt appropriate use of pesticides in consonance with good agricultural practices was essential to ensure adequate production and availability of agricultural commodities for the food security for Indian population. Considering the benefits and potential risks, it was felt that the continued use of pesticides was desirable for India.

On the question whether the existing quantity could be destroyed the committee was of the view that it was not feasible to destroy the large quantities of raw materials with the manufacturers and the pesticide formulations lying with various agencies. It said “disposal of existing stocks of endosulfan in existing incinerators may take long duration due to the limited capacity and the cost of disposal would be exorbitant and also prohibitive as per the Dr. Gajbhiye Committee report. The same has been corroborated by the CPCB which estimated the cost to the tune to Rs. 1189 crores for incineration and will require several years of dedicated operations.”

The committee took into consideration the views expressed by different state governments wherein they had reported no adverse effects of endosulfan. The committee also heard the views of DYFI and Pesticide Manufacturers and Formulators association of India before finalising the report. The matter comes up for further hearing next week.

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