Bangalore/Kolkata: After Kerala, Karnataka today banned use of the pesticide Endosulfan with immediate effect, citing health hazards.
The ban move came even as Pesticides manufacturers and Formulators Association of India warned that farmers in the country will be hard hit if endosulfan in use for 55 years comes under a worldwide ban order under the Stockholm convention in April.
The ban order is being pushed at the instance of the European Union for being a persistent organic pollutant, the Association President Pradip Dave said in Kolkata.
In deciding to ban endosulfan, the Karnataka Cabinet chaired by Chief Minister B S Yeddyurappa took note of reports of physical deformities caused due to its usage in some areas.
Briefing reporters in Bangalore after the Cabinet meeting, Higher Education Minister V S Acharya said the adverse impact on humans, animals and birds due to aerial spray of Endosulfan is `scary.`
Endosulfan is used as insecticide for cashewnut crops in taluks such as Belthangady, Puttur and Bantwal, and Acharya pointed to reports of physical deformities and diseases in the areas following aerial sprays.
The state government decided to ban Endosulfan use for 60 days to start with and would continue the measure thereafter as well.
"The Cabinet has taken a decision to recommend to the Central government to ban use of Endosulfan in Karnataka", he said.
Acharya indicated that the Central nod for the ban is a formality, saying: "...they (the Centre) will give immediate concurrence. By sending a requisition (to the Centre), we get authority to ban".
He also noted that the neighbouring state of Kerala has already banned it.
The Minister also clarified that it is a "blanket ban" on use of Endosulfan, not just for aerial sprays which are resorted to in vast areas to cut labour costs.
Dave said the off patent pesticide endosulfan has been proposed to be listed as a Persistent Organic Pollutant (POP) and India is facing mounting pressure not to oppose European Union proposal to enlist endosulfan as a POP.
He said that a decision on the EU proposal would be taken by the Conference of Parties (COP) at the Stockholm convention in April next "if no worldwide move is taken in
favour of the endosulfan pesticide`s continuance".
Crop care Foundation of India Director Anil Kakkar said the move to eliminate `"off patent" endosulfan would pose a serious challenge to Indian farmers.
He said that over 75 million Indian farmers had been safely using this pesticide over the years and the government too considered it as not being harmful to farmers, consumers and crops.
Kakkar said that endosulfan had been in use in tea cultivation for over 40 years and its discontinuance as an effective pesticide would have a negative impact on agricultural output since the alternative pesticides are "rather expensive" for Indian farmers.
Chairman of International Stewardship Centre, an observer to the Stockholm convention, R Hariharan said it is "unfortunate" that there is inadequate representation of farmers views at the Stockholm convention.
Hariharan said the Indian tea industry was already reeling under the impact of EU decision to unilaterally reduce the Maximum Residue Limit (MRL) of endosulfan in tea by moving away the internationally recognised norms prescibed by the Codex committee on Pesticide Residues (CCPR).
He said that Indian government`s position to side with the farmers in the country for the continunance of the endosulfan pesticide was a matter of relief.