NHRC slams government for opposing ban on endosulfan

Friday, December 31, 2010

NEW DELHI - The National Human Rights Commission Friday slammed the government for opposing the ban on the endosulfan pesticide, stating that this position has led and will continue to lead to grave violations of human rights”.

In a order dated Dec 31, NHRC has recommended that the government should take administrative and legislative action to ban the use of endosulfan throughout the country.

In India, the Kerala state government had banned the use of endosulfan, but the centre’s position is that the pesticide has not caused any problem and neither should it be be included as Annex A chemicals in the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants, which would have led to its worldwide elimination. It was the only country to vote against its inclusion at the Convention’s meeting in October 2010.

The Commission reiterates that the present stand of the Government of India has led and will continue to lead to grave violations of human rights. Since endosulfan is a persistent organic pollutant, the dangers it poses will linger and multiply through the generations, causing harm on a scale that cannot presently be fully quantified, said the order.

NHRC referred to a 2002 study by National Instituted of Occupational Health that had found that there was significant higher prevalence of neurobehaviourial disorders, congenital malformations in female subjects and abnormalities related to male reproductive system in areas which had undergone continued and high exposure to aerial spray of endosulfan.

In November 2010, the NHRC chief K.G. Balakrishnan and a team of officers visited Kerala, which confirmed the high incidence of medical disorders recorded by NIOH and also that the compensation given by the state government was either too meagre or not reaching the recipients at all.

The central government told NHRC that there was no scientific basis for the ban on endosulfan imposed in 60 other nations or recommended by experts of the Stockholm convention.

The Commission is at a loss to understand the logic of this stand. The countries that have banned endosulfan are those that have access to the most advanced scientific research, they include the U.S., the EU, Japan, the Republic of Korea, Australia and New Zealand, which have taken their decision on the basis of scientific data and studies, said the NHRC order.

The five recommendations made for the centre in the NHRC order also included proposal for a nation-wide survey of population that have been affected by use of endosulfan and help in the long-term rehabilitation of victims.

NHRC has asked the state government to pay a minimum of Rs.500,000 to the next of kin of dead and those fully bed-ridden or mentally retarded, and Rs.300,000 to who have got other disability.

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