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Endosulfan ban continues in southern states

A central expert committee has given a report to the Supreme Court endorsing ban on sale and use of endosulfan in Kerala and Karnataka but said farmers in other states could be allowed to use the pesticide for agriculture.
However, the expert committee jointly chaired by director general of Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) and Agriculture Commissioner of India in its interim report to the court found ample proof of health disorders among people and damage to the environment to recommend enforcement of SC’s total ban on use of endosulfan in the two south Indian states.
Answering a specific query posed by a bench headed by Chief Justice S H Kapadia, the committee said if the court was not convinced to lift its interim ban on manufacture, sale and use of the cheap pesticide, then there could be no harm in allowing industry to exhaust their endosulfan stock through exports. The industry had been seeking SC’s permission to export to meet prior commitments. Recommending continuance of complete ban in Kerala and Karnataka, the report said, “The restriction on endosulfan is supported by data from Kerala and Karnataka only whereas none of the other states have reported endosulfan associated adverse health effects so far which is part of future investigations planned.” The court will consider the report on Friday. On May 13, the court had banned use of endosulfan across the country while directing the expert committee to report on the future course of action. The team of experts headed by ICMR DG V M Katoch and agricultural commissioner Gurbachan Singh conducted field studies and spot visits. The team concluded, “The major users of endosulfan based on 2009-10 data including Haryana, Punjab, Bihar and Maharashtra did not report any negative effect of endosulfan use on crops, human health, animal soil, and water with the exception of Kerala and Karnataka.”

The committee said a nation-wide study on the harmful effects of endosulfan could take up to two years.

But the report sounded an alarm about Kerala saying, “Reproductive morbidities in respect of infertility, abortions and intra-uterine deaths are more frequent in areas which were aerially sprayed with endosulfan. High incidence of infertility was spotted in women aged above 30 years while in younger women, the effect was gradually coming down.”

It added, “Boys showed delayed onset of puberty and prevalence of congenital abnormality among school children above 12 years of age, besides high incidence of cancer deaths among persons below 50 years of age.”

The report came in response to court’s queries on a PIL filed by Democratic Youth Federation of India (DYFI), which had sought a ban on the use of endosulfan.

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