India on Tuesday raised objections to the “absence of alternatives” in the recommendation for a global ban on endosulfan at the conference of parties to the Stockholm Convention meeting in Geneva. However, C. Jayakumar, observer from Kerala, told TheHindu over telephone from Geneva that there was softening in India's approach compared to its position at the previous meetings.

Though it had said the health and environmental effects of endosulfan were not established in a draft circulated in the Asia Pacific Group, India did not mention this argument in its presentation to the conference. Its delegates, instead, focussed on the absence of alternatives to endosulfan and the time needed for finding and obtaining alternatives.

Faced with moves from the European Union to press for a division on the ban, India stressed that the issue should be decided by consensus. However, the chair suggested that the issue of division could be discussed at a later stage.

A contact group with Qatar as chairman was formed to sort out the differences that emerged during Tuesday's session. This group planned to meet later in the day to work out agreements on various issues.

India had circulated a draft in the Asia Pacific Group seeking postponement of a decision on endosulfan to the next conference of parties. However, this was opposed by Gulf countries such as Bahrain, Qatar and Oman, which pointed out that they had banned endosulfan. India, however, has not withdrawn the draft.

Many developing countries such as Indonesia and Uganda, besides India, raised the need for financial and technical assistance and access to technology to replace endosulfan with alternatives.

Switzerland stressed that alternatives were available and that it was willing to discuss assistance for replacement of endosulfan in the developing countries. China felt that the procedural issues raised at the meeting should be corrected.

Endosulfan has been recommended by the Convention's POPs Review Committee for addition to the list of 21 chemicals already slated for global phase-out. At this week's session, governments will decide whether to include the persistent insecticide in the Convention, which would ban it in the 173 countries that are parties to the treaty.

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