Thiruvananthapuram: Stepping up pressure
on the Centre for a nationwide ban on endosulfan pesticide,
Kerala Chief Minister VS Achuthanandan on Monday began a day-long
fast here along with peoples` representatives, political
leaders and civil rights activists to press for the demand.
The mass fast at the martyr`s column is being held as
part of the "anti-endosulfan day" being observed in the state
today. It began at 10.00 am and would end at 5.00 pm.
The agitation comes on a day when discussion on the
demand for ban on persistent organic pollutants begins at an
international convention in Geneva. The protestors demand that
India press for a ban on endosulfan at the Geneva Convention.
Speaking at the venue, Achuthanandan said the
"negative approach" of the Centre and the Prime Minister
towards the demand for endosulfan ban was a "challenge to the
people" and would have to be corrected.
Scientific studies by expert panels formed by the
Centre and state had found that endosulfan was a deadly
chemical. However, the Prime Minister had been "wrongly
briefed" by his colleagues on the ill-effects of the
pesticide, he said.
"It was strange that the Centre adopted a stand that
people in every state should be affected by the pesticide
before considering a nationwide ban," the Chief Minister said,
and wanted India to press for its ban at the Geneva
Ministers MA Baby, C Divakaran, poet and
social activist Sugathakumari, CPI leader CK Chandrappan, LDF
convenor Vaikom Viswan and BJP leader O Rajagopal are among
those taking part in the fast here.
Similar protests, led by ministers, are being held in
all district headquarters in the state. In Kasaragod, the
worst-hit region by the use of endosulfan, a mass rally is
being held against the protest.
Endosulfan has been banned in Kerala since 2005 in
view of the grievous ill-effects of its use in cashew
plantations in Kasaragod, including nearly 500 deaths and
chronic health problems among the population.
The state has been pressing for a countrywide ban on
the pesticide and wants the Centre to support the relief and
rehabilitation package for endosulfan victims.
An all-party team from Kerala had met Prime Minister
Manmohan Singh in New Delhi last week to press the demand.
While BJP is participating in the stir throughout the
state, the Congress-led UDF is keeping away alleging that the
Chief Minister and the Left Front was trying to politicise the