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Endosulfan and Kerala
What is endosulphan?
Endosulfan is a chemical, chlorine compound used in insecticide and pesticide. As any insecticide/pesticide endosulphan is also a poisonous material. Endosulfan based pesticide was formulated during the 1950s in Europe. The U S started manufacturing this from 1954. This material is manufactured in many countries throughout the world. In India it is made mainly by the Public Sector Undertaking, Hindustan Insecticide Ltd and to a small extent by private companies.
Use of endosulfan
Endosulfan is used in agriculture, horticulture, gardens etc to control/remove several varieties of insects/pests which damage/destroy crops throughout the world. For about 50 years this pesticide is being used all over the world against the harmful pests and insects. Since it is a poisonous matter, it may also affect the insects useful to the agriculture along with the destruction of harmful pests.
Complaints against endosulfan
Endosulfan is being used in the entire world since about 50 years. After the use of this pesticide, there were some complaints about its harmful effects. Hence some restrictions started taking place as to its use in many parts of the world. In 2000 Endosulfan was banned from the use of homes and gardens. In 2007 Canada decided to phase out endosulfan from use. The U S has decided to ban endosulfan. It is working out a strategy to remove it from the market. Recently around 63 countries including the European Union, Australia, New Zeeland and some Asian and African countries have banned the use of endosulfan in their countries.
Complaints and Studies in India
The main complaint against endosulfan in India is from Kasarkod district of Kerala. In some villages of Kasarkod district in Kerala, Cashew Plantation Corporation of Kerala developed Cashew plantations to the extent of about 2000 Hectares from 1977. In these areas, the corporation was using aerial spray of endosulfan to control pests and mosquitoes. In and around these areas people started having strange health problems. Children were affected by congenital diseases; the population was afflicted with skin allergies, physical deformities, cancer incidents, lever problems, blood cancer, cerebral palsy, epilepsy, asthma, mental retardation etc. There were complaints that while spraying those who were spraying endosulfan used to get breathing problem, cough, irritation of the eyes, headache, bodily weakness, suicidal tendency, drowsiness etc. Women and animals were suspected to have unusual abortions. The people of the area and some voluntary organisations had taken up the problem with the concerned authorities. The local doctors who were treating the diseases were also taking up with their higher authorities.
Studies about the alleged problems
Several organisations and individuals conducted studies and came to the conclusion that the occurrence of these illnesses is mainly due to endosulfan. According to them these problems are found only in and around the places where endosulfan is used. They have cited that many counties have already banned or are in the process of banning endosulfan.
Similarly several institutions have conducted studies or gone through the reports and have come out against the theory that endosulfan connections with the health problems. They point out that throughout the world it is used since about 50 years and only about 60 countries have banned the same. In India itself endosulfan based pesticide is used extensively and no health problems are reported except from Kasarkod and a few places in Karnataka north of Kasarkod. If endosulfan is the cause it should have been noted in other areas also. They felt that the bogey of endosulfan is projected mainly by the companies manufacturing alternatives to endosulfan from European Union to further their interests as the alternative to endosulfan is produced and patented there. The price is also very high for the alternative and will be costly to the farmers. This will enhance the margin to the manufacturers.
Like in any important public matter, the endosulfan effect has also produced opposite views and the controversy is going on. Unfortunately, the affected persons and families continue to suffer. It is high time that either the State or Central Government do something to find out the true cause of the misery of Kasarkod people and take steps to eradicate the problem.
Remedies for affected people
In 2002 the Kerala High Court banned sale and use of endosulfan in Kerala on a petition, and the State Government banned endosulfan in Kerala. In 2005 the Central Government issued order that the pesticide bottles containing endosulfan should have label with a message that the bottle is not for sale in Kerala. A petition has been moved in the Supreme Court in May 11, seeking a ban on sale and production of the pesticide Endosulfan across the country. The outcome of the case is awaited from the S C.
In August 2006 the Kerala government disbursed Rs 50,000 each to the kin of 135 victims who had died. The C M announced a relief package of Rs 50 lakhs to take care of the treatment of the affected and their rehabilitation free ration, pension, a loan waiver, housing and drinking water supply, rehabilitation, training and employment for the 2,210 victims of endosulfan exposure. He told journalists later that the state would enhance pension, improve education facilities, housing, and drinking water supply and provide job training and employment to the endosulfan victims. The C M said that action would also be taken to provide land for the landless.
Stockholm Convention 25 to 29 April 2011
Representatives from 127 Governments meeting in Geneva last week at the fifth meeting of the Conference of the Parties agreed to add endosulfan to the list of POPs to be eliminated worldwide. The action puts the widely-used pesticide on course for elimination from the global market by 2012.