Call to provide adequate compensation to the victims
Chief Minister V.S. Achuthanandan and the Left Democratic Front (LDF) are politicising the Endosulfan issue by organising a fast demanding a nation-wide ban on the pesticide, Leader of the Opposition Oommen Chandy has said.
Addressing a news conference here on Tuesday, he said the Congress-led United Democratic front (UDF) had refused to cooperate with the fast as the LDF government failed to take action during its tenure despite the Centre issuing a gazette notification on October 31, 2006 prohibiting the use of Endosulfan.
The Chief Minister's fast coincided with Convention of Parties to the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants in Geneva, he said.
Displaying a copy of the gazette notification, Mr. Chandy said the Centre had banned the use of Endosulfan in the State based on a request by the then UDF government in 2005. It had then issued a draft notification on October 26, 2005 calling for objections and suggestions in the gazette before final notification. All these years, the Left government had not registered a single case, carried out raids or seized any Endosulfan. Such an attitude showed the inefficiency of the government, he said.
The Congress leader also quoted excerpts from an interview with Agriculture Minister Mullakkara Ratnakaran which appeared in The Hindu stating that, “an agriculture officer can stop people when they are using it. He cannot stop the smuggling of the pesticides in jeeps and other vehicles.”
But the government had failed even to conduct a search on an estate godown if agriculture officers were unable to check the smuggling of pesticides in jeeps or examine the pesticide samples sprayed at plantations, Mr. Chandy said.
Mr. Chandy maintained that the Central gazette notification was only a ban on the use of Endosulfan and not its sale and distribution when journalists brought to his attention that Hindustan Insecticides Ltd at Udyogmandal produced the pesticide.
If the government had any sincerity it would not have given a paltry sum of Rs.50,000 as aid to the kin of those affected. He criticised the government for not filing a counter petition when Plantation Corporation of Kerala Ltd. filed an affidavit in the High Court regarding the aerial spraying of Endosulfan in Kasaragod. Mr. Chandy said the Congress favoured total ban on Endosulfan.
The CPI (M) should spell out its stance on the issue including in West Bengal and Tripura, and so should the Bharatiya Janata Party, he said.