KERALA

Greenpeace puts PCK, HIL in the dock

KOCHI NOV. 24. `Corporate Crimes', a report published by Greenpeace, International NGO, has listed the Plantation Corporation of Kerala (PCK) in Kottayam and Hindustan Insecticides Ltd. (HIL), Eloor, as companies responsible for causing pesticide pollution in the State.

The report, which includes a compilation of 48 cases involving industrial and oil companies in the world, was released formally here today. V. R. Krishna Iyer, former Supreme Court judge, released the book by handing over a copy to Justice K. Narayana Kurup.

According to the report, aerial spraying of the persistent toxic chemical, endosulfan, has affected around 20,000 people spread over 15 villages in Kasargod district.

"Surface water sources such as tanks, streams, ponds and soil have been continuously poisoned with endosulfan. Very high residues of pesticide have been reported to be found in drinking water resources and soil,'' the report said.

Greenpeace has held the PCK responsible for the aerial spraying of extremely hazardous chemical for more than two decades and violating recommendations and safety measures in the process.

The Department of Agriculture was also responsible for failing to intervene despite complaints since 1980.

According to the report, the Central Insecticides Board of India has failed to implement an important shared recommendation of two Government-appointed committees to stop the use of endosulfan near water bodies.

The Pollution Control Board had failed to take measures to protect water bodies and the public while the National Research Centre for Cashew and Kerala Agricultural University have been found to be responsible for advocating the use of endosulfan in crops in Kerala.

The final Greenpeace statement demanded that State-owned corporations be made liable and accountable to the public like privately-owned multinational corporations.

In the case of HIL, Eloor, the report said that the company had released effluents contaminated with DDT and metabolites, endosulfan and derivatives, BHC and other chemicals, including highly toxic organochlorines into a public stream.

According to a Greenpeace investigation conducted in 1999, the effluent stream shared by this factory with Fertilizers and Chemicals Travancore (FACT) and Merchem Ltd., contains 111 toxic chemicals of which 39 are organochlorines. The contaminants were linked to releases from HIL.

The primary effluent reaches Periyar, which is the drinking water source for the entire city of Kochi and Aluva. Periyar was also the source of livelihood for thousands of fisherfolk, the report said.

The report said that around 20,000 people had been directly affected by the contaminated stream as it flowed into a river that was used for drinking water.

The stream also contaminated wetlands, vegetation and domestic animals in the area. Around 80 per cent of the people in the area were reportedly found suffering from respiratory diseases.

The Greenpeace has held HIL and the PCB responsible for causing extensive damage.