Amid growing demand by environmental activists and various political parties for a central ban on the use of Endosulfan, Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh on Friday said the pesticide will be banned if its adverse effect on health is proved.
“Endosulfan is banned in Kerala. I respect the decision of the government of Kerala and if there is evidence to show that it has all India health effects, we will ban it at the national level,” he told reporters on the sidelines of a function in New Delhi.
Mr. Ramesh was reacting to a question on Kerala’s demand for an all India ban on the pesticide.
However, the Minister said, Endosulfan is a broad spectrum pesticide and there are no other cost effective alternatives to it as yet.
The country is witnessing a concerted campaign by a section of the society since last few months, seeking nationwide ban on the use of Endosulfan following reports of adverse effects among the inhabitants of Kerala’s Kasargod district after the Plantation Corporation of Kerala resorted to aerial spraying of undiluted Endosulfan on cashew plantations.
Mr. Ramesh said he was aware of the disaster in Kasargod and have 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.
The government had all along maintained there was no cause-and-effect relationship between the use of Endosulfan and incidence of adverse health effects.
At the sixth meeting of Persistent Organic Pollutants Review Committee held in Geneva last year, India had raised its voice against moving any further on the issue till its concerns, both procedural and substantive, were addressed by the Conference of Parties of the Stockholm Convention.
Alleging that there were lot of lobbies working for and against the Endosulfan, Mr. Ramesh said, “I do not want to fall victim to any lobby — either the anti-Endosulfan or pro-Endosulfan lobby... I will go by the evidence that I have. I fully support the ban that the Kerala government has imposed.”
“I can assure you that I will not be persuaded by the manufacturers’ lobby. If there is evidence that Endosulfan should be banned or phased out, I will be the first one to support it,” he said.
However, the Ministry of Agriculture will decide ultimately on the availability of an alternative to Endosulfan, Mr. Ramesh added.
An all-party delegation from Kerala led by Health Minister P.K. Sreemathi will meet Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Saturday to press for a nationwide ban on Endosulfan.