Protest against Union government's stance on Endosulfan

The ruling Left Democratic Front (LDF) has decided to observe a dawn-to-dusk hartal across the State on April 29 to press for a total ban on production and use of Endosulfan.

The LDF State committee, which held an urgent session here on Tuesday, decided to organise the hartal to coincide with the conclusion of the conference of parties to the Stockholm Convention now on in Geneva.

The alliance has sought the support of the entire population of Kerala for the hartal. The LDF described the hartal plan as a non-partisan initiative. Hospitals and distribution of milk and newspapers have been exempted from the hartal. Two-wheelers will also be allowed to ply on the day.

India on Tuesday said any final recommendation on banning the pesticide must be based on “consensus” as well as thorough scientific and technical evidence.

During the ongoing fifth meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants in Geneva, a senior Environment Ministry official intervened twice to drive home the message that India wants to know the scientific and technical data underlying the recommendation by the Persistent Organic Pollutants Review Committee (POPRC) to include Endosulfan in Annex A.

Several other developing nations have also called for “exceptions” and unimpeded access to alternatives in the event Endosulfan is included in Annex A list of chemicals by the POPRC.

Briefing reporters after the LDF panel meeting, alliance convener Vaikom Viswan came down heavily on what he termed the Centre's ‘negative' attitude towards the State's collective demand for a ban on Endosulfan and its refusal to join the nations across the world for a global ban on the pesticide which had wrought havoc in the lives of thousands of people across the country.

Mr. Viswan brushed aside the Opposition criticism that the LDF and Chief Minister V.S. Achuthanandan were striking a high moral ground after having done nothing to prevent the use of the pesticide. The campaign against Endosulfan had begun in 2000 and, on assuming office, the LDF government had banned its use in the State, taken steps for the rehabilitation of the Endosulfan victims by paying pension to their families and provided the victims with medical care. Left MPs had on Monday staged protests in Parliament House in New Delhi to press for a ban on the “killer pesticide”.

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