: Close on the heels of the Kerala State Pollution Control Board banning the use of Endosulfan in the State, environmentalists here have demanded a nation-wide ban on the pesticide, especially in the cardamom sector where it is reported to be extensively used after a sudden spurt in prices.
They said Endosulfan from Cumbom area in Tamil Nadu was being brought here in bottles bearing a different label.
Environmentalist E.J. Joseph said the pesticide was brought in by estate labourers who arrived in jeeps from Tamil Nadu. Though these vehicles are inspected at the check-posts, there are a large number of porous routes on the border used by cardamom smugglers, which could also become a route for its arrival unless a nation-wide ban was enforced. He said there had been many incidents of workers fainting while spraying the pesticide.
Studies conducted in Vandanmedu and Mali areas, the main cardamom cultivating places, had revealed the ill-effects of the pesticide. He said official studies conducted some years ago in Kanchiyar had warned about the risks involved as a large number of people suffered from diseases and mental and physical deformities.
C.P. Roy, an activist of Green Leaf, said small-scale growers were less aware of the actual pesticide being applied and it was a practice among them to increase the application for pest-control and prevent the decay of plants when the prices rose. He said several instances where plants had withered due to heavy and unscientific use of pesticides had been reported. It is also a fact that the pesticide was being used extensively in vegetable and fruit cultivation.
C.T. Thomas, District Medical Officer, told The Hindu on Saturday that Health officials had conducted a survey of 593 houses in the two wards of Upputhara grama panchayat on Friday and the report would be submitted at the meeting convened by the Chief Minister on November 23.