The Karnataka government on Thursday banned the use of endosulfan, an insecticide, with immediate effect.
This has been a longstanding demand of the people of Dakshina Kannada, Uttara Kannada and Udupi districts, and reports have it that lobby of manufacturers prevented the introduction of such a ban for several years.
Briefing presspersons after the State Cabinet meeting, Minister for Higher Education V.S. Acharya said the Cabinet discussed the harmful effects of endosulfan on the health of farmers and people living in rural areas. The government will now invoke the provisions of the Insecticides Act, 1968 (a Central act) and write a letter to the Union Government about the ban. According to the provisions, the State government can write to the Centre, by virtue of which a ban can be imposed, albeit for a brief period. Minister for Energy, and Food and Civil Supplies Shobha Karandlaje, who has been spearheading a movement seeking a ban on endosulfan, said, “I am grateful to Chief Minister B.S. Yeddyurappa and members of the Cabinet for approving the ban. It is unfortunate that the Union government is still bending to the lobby of endosulfan manufacturers. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh should intervene in the matter, more so, since Union Minister for Agriculture Sharad Pawar has spoken in favour of the insecticide.”
Kerala was the first State to ban endosulfan, on October 31, 2006.
According to the Cabinet note, aerial spraying of the insecticide has resulted in several health problems such as children developing physical deformities and mental retardation, skin cancer, epilepsy, etc. Farmers are also complaining about the death of cattle for no apparent reason, and there have also been reports of fish kills.
Studies on animals have shown that long-term exposure to low levels of endosulfan affects the kidneys, liver and foetuses.
Endosulfan is primarily used during certain periods of the year. With the ban, the State can prevent its use for a period not exceeding 60 days. Aerial spraying of endosulfan was undertaken every year (from 1983) by the Karnataka Cashew Development Board in many villages in Puttur, Belthangady and Bantwal taluks in Dakshina Kannada. Over 60 countries have banned the use of this deadly pesticide after they found viable alternatives.