Continues ban on production of the pesticide

The Supreme Court, while continuing the ban on production of endosulfan, on Friday directed an expert committee to suggest the terms under which the existing stocks with manufacturers could be exported.

A Bench of Chief Justice S.H. Kapdia and Justices K.S. Radhakrishnan and Swatanter Kumar took on record the committee's interim report which said public health concern or hazard associated with the pesticide was not reported from any State barring Kerala and Karnataka,.

On May 13, the court, acting on a writ petition from the Democratic Youth Federation of India, banned the use of endosulfan all over India. It directed the statutory authorities to freeze production licences granted to manufacturers till further orders.

The court also constituted the expert committee to go into all aspects of the pesticide and asked the Centre to submit a report.

During the resumed hearing, the Centre maintained that except in Kerala and Karnataka no negative impact of this pesticide on crops, human and animal health and environment was reported anywhere and the ban should not be imposed in other States.

The Bench, after hearing senior counsel Harish Salve appearing for the manufacturers and Krishnan Venugopal for the petitioner and Additional Solicitor-General Gaurab Banerjee for the Centre, asked the Joint Expert Committee to tell the court “what is the total quantity of the manufactured endosulfan in various companies, etc. in the country; what is the quantity of the manufactured stock of endosulfan, out of the total quantity manufactured in India which can be exported in terms of the pending export orders; to which countries could exports be made and on what conditions.”

The Bench said “the committee will examine the relevant material, including international conventions, and suggest the conditions on which exports of the existing manufactured stock could be made; what steps the government should take to dispose of the balance quantity of the manufactured endosulfan; at what stage the material/product could be destroyed.

“While deciding these questions… the committee would keep in mind the environmental norms — whether destruction of the balance quantity would result in ecological degradation.” The Bench asked the committee to give an interim report within three weeks.

In its first report submitted to the court, the committee said “alternatives to endosulfan are registered and available in the country. However, most of these alternative pesticides are reported costly, are more toxic to pollinators/honey bees and need more care during handling and use.”

The committee recommended that export be allowed to utilise the stock of technical and formulated product available with the manufacturers. “In case the export or use of endosulfan is not permitted, it may be difficult to dispose of the existing stocks and [they] may pose environmental hazards.”