Govt fails to meet deadline on Endosulfan

Last Updated: Friday, July 15, 2011 - 18:57

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Friday took
a serious note of government`s failure to meet the two-month
deadline on submitting its interim report on the possibility
of either imposing a complete ban on pesticide Endosulfan or
eliminating the existing stock in phases.

The apex court, which on May 13 had imposed a complete
ban on production, sale and use of Endosulfan for eight weeks,
granted another three weeks to the Centre to come out with the
report while refusing its plea for a six-week time.
"The Additional Solicitor General seeks six weeks`
time to file the interim report. We are not inclined to give
six weeks and the the preliminary report based on the study by
an expert committee has to be filed within three weeks," a
bench comprising Chief Justice S H Kapadia and Justices K S
Radhakrishnan and Swatanter Kumar said.

The bench reminded Additional Solicitor General Mohan
Parasaran that already two months had passed since it gave an
interim order on May 13 asking for preliminary report based on
a detailed study from all aspect by an expert committee.

Much depends on the preliminary report as the court in
its earlier order had said that "if the expert committee on
detail study comes to the conclusion that there is no harmful
effect of the Endosulfan, the preliminary report will be
considered for vacating the interim stay".

It had asked the committee to give its preliminary
report within eight weeks on whether the pesticide should be
banned or its existing stock should be eliminated in phases
and if there is any alternative to the controversial
pesticide.

The court was hearing a petition seeking a ban on
Endolsulfan on the ground that it was causing health hazards
including genetic disorders in Kerala where it is widely
used.

During the brief hearing, the bench said there was
also a need to understand the practice of international
standards on the issue of Endosulfan.
Senior advocate Harish Salve, appearing for the
manufacturers of Endosulfan, expressed concern on delay in the
preparation of the report saying that the production of the
pesticide has come to a halt since the last two months which
was affecting international commitments.

"We make the product for other countries. Why to stop
the export?" he argued.

Senior advocate Krishna Venugopal, appearing for the
anti-Endosulfan campaigner, submitted that he would place all
documents to assist the court.

However, the bench said, "Our May 13 order is only for
interim report".

Taking not of the plea to allow export of the existing
stock, the CJI said, "I want to be sure that if we allow the
export it should not come back to India".

The bench said the Centre must keep in mind various
aspects connected with Endosulfan including the stockpile and
how it would be going to destroyed.

"You have to keep all these things in mind," the bench
said.
A complete ban on production, sale and use of
pesticide Endosulfan for eight weeks was ordered by the
Supreme Court which had held that human life is more important
than anything else. "We don`t want a single child to
suffer," it had said.

The bench had said it was concerned about right to
life of the citizen guaranteed under Article 21 of the
Constitution and even the companies involved in the
manufacturing of the controversial pesticide cannot ignore
corporate and social responsibility by ignoring the alleged
hazards posed to human lives.

The bench had also directed the statutory authorities
to freeze the production licences granted to the manufacturers
of the pesticide till further orders.

The bench has said a detailed study from all aspect
needs to be done by an expert committee and directed the
government to form it by amalgamating the two committees -
one headed by the Director General of Indian Counsel for
Medical Research and another by Agricultural Commissioner of
the Ministry of Agriculture.
The bench had said it would not restrict itself to the
issue of Endosulfan to Kerala, which has bore the maximum
brunt of the pesticide, and considered it on the national
prospective.

Democratic Youth Federation of India has sought a
country-wide ban on sale and production of Endosulfan in its
present form or any other derivatives, contending that a large
section of people was directly affected because of its use. It
also noted that Endosulfan has been already banned in 81
countries.

The petitioner said several studies had documented
that the pesticide could affect human development. It gave
example of serious health hazards caused in Kerala`s
Kasaragod district.

According to the petitioner, researchers studying
children from an isolated village in Kasaragod district have
linked Endosulfan exposure to delays in sexual maturity among
boys.

Endosulfan is an off-patent organochlorine insecticide
and acaricide.

The petitioner had said that Endosulfan was the only
pesticide applied to cashew plantations in Kasaragod for 20
years and contaminated the environment there.

The pesticide manufacturers had alleged that the plea
of CPI-M activists for a ban on Endosulfan was politically
motivated and sought dismissal of the petition.

PTI



First Published: Friday, July 15, 2011 - 18:57

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