Thiruvananthapuram: The dawn-to-dusk hartal
called by the CPI(M)-led LDF in Kerala demanding countrywide
ban on the endosulfan pesticide threw life out of gear but
passed off peacefully on Friday.
The shut-down, which coincided with the final day of the
Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants at
Geneva, evoked a total response, reports said adding there
were only minor incidents of stone pelting at banks.
As the hartal ended, the Left claimed victory for its
anti-endosulfan campaign with the Stokholm Convention adopting
a resolution to phase out the toxic pesticide.
LDF has been pressing the Centre to ban endosulfan which
had allegedly caused over 400 deaths and serious health
problems to nearly 4,000 people in parts of Kasargode in north
Kerala, where the pesticide was sprayed in a state-run cashew
plantation. Endosulfan was banned in the state in 2005.
Hailing the Geneva outcome, Kerala Chief Minister VS
Ahuthanandan, who has been spearheading the campaign on the
issue for the last several years, said "the pesticide lobby
had to finally surrender before people`s movement."
He said finally the Union Government had to support the ban
demand. The outcome was "a victory of the resistance movement
against the pesticide in different parts of world including
Kerala", the 87-year old Marxist leader who recently staged a
day-long fast to press for a ban on endosulfan,told reporters.
He said the convention`s decision was conveyed to him by
the independent observer from the state for the Geneva meet.
The meet decided to include endosulfan in Annexe-A of
banned organic chemicals, which will lead to the global ban of
the pesticide in a phased manner.
The decision was greeted by the people in Kasargode, which
suffered the maximum casualty as well as serious health and
environmental ill-effects, by bursting crackers.
In many parts of the state campaigners took out victory
marches and distributed sweets.
While welcoming the Geneva decision, CPI(M) state Secretary
Pinrayi Vijayan criticised the UPA Government for seeking
exemptions in implementing the ban.
"Uncertainty is still not over whether the UPA Government
will impose the ban totally. But all those who had supported
the campaign could share the credit for victory", he said.
At the Geneva meet, some countries like India have been
given relaxations which will allow restricted use of the
pesticide for certain crops for more time.
Recently, the LDF government had stepped up the campaign
for countrywide ban on the pesticide and accused the UPA
Government of solft peddaling the issue.