Who will end Endosulfan?  

Posted by Praveen in , , ,

A baby with an abnormally large head, people with deformed faces and deformed limbs, kids walking in crutches, bleeding skins, braindead souls...No, these are not scenes from one of those thousands of hollywood movies depicting death and destruction. Nor are these scenes from an affected village near a nuclear plant. These are scenes that will greet you in many of the villages in Kasargod, a district in Kerala. And the culprit? Endosulfan, an aptly named insecticide which was sprayed over these villages to protect the cashew saplings planted by the plantation board. The spraying over a long period of time contaminated these villages(Muliyar,Padre,cheemeni,bovikanam etc.) to such an extent that there's none around who is not affected with one disease or the other. The variety of diseases is alarming-from simple body pain to cancer, epilepsy and cerebral palsy. Many of the new borns are mentally unstable or deformed at birth. The depth of the horror is such that women in these areas are resorting to abortions to prevent giving birth to stillborns and mentally retarted babies. Besides humans, the chemical also resulted in the death of fishes and other livestock. The poor villagers at first thought all this was caused due to the displeasure of the Gods. All this changed at the end of the 90s when a group of committed individuals like Dr.Mohana Kumar and farmer Sri Padre found out the real reason behind this, spraying of endosulfan in these areas over a period of two decades. This touching photojournalistic work by mathrubhumi photographer Madhuraj throws light on this huge tragedy.
one of the victims of endosulfan(Kasargod,Kerala)

So, reading all that, what will you naturally expect? That this insecticide is already banned in India and the ones behind this behind bars? If you think so, its time to wake up and take in the reality of the new shining capitalist India. Right now, its banned only in Kerala and Karnataka, which the state govts did in their own capacity. But, at the same time there are some high profile govt agents batting for 'endosulfan'. Union minister for agriculture Mr.Sharad Pawar makes the expected appearance at the top of that shameful list of individuals. Few months back, he had told the Parliament that several states and farmers had written to him asking him not to ban endosulfan because it will affect their livelihood. But, earlier this month an RTI application by a journalist revealed that not a single state wrote to the centre against the ban. And the 6 letters recieved by the centre were all from organisations supporting endosulfan. This single incident reveals the vested interests at play here. The surprising thing in the whole episode is that its the govt owned Hindustan insecticides limited that manufactures Endosulfan in India. And, Pawar even made a statement blaming the lack of intelligence of the farmers, who 'doesn't know how to use the insecticide'. Remember, this is an insecticide banned in over 60 countries worldwide. Another high profile supporter of endosulfan is K.V.Thomas, minister of state for agriculture, who recieved a lot of flak for his speeches citing 'lack of evidence' against endosulfan. There's a big lobby at play behind the stage, including Pesticide Manufacturers and Formulators Association of India (PMFAI) and Endosulfan Manufactures & Formulators Welfare Association (EMFWA). They've spread this opinion that banning endosulfan will is against the interests of poor farmers in India as its the cheapest insecticide available in the market. They've cleverly suppressed the fact that there are cheaper alternatives available with none of these horrible side effects.
a man with deformed limbs, thanks to endosulfan

The Stockholm convention is an international treaty that aims to eliminate persistent organic pollutants(source-wikipedia), the ones which are resistant to environmental degradation. The latest meeting of this convention took place yesterday(April 25th). There's been calls from all over to the central govt to support the banning of endosulfan at stockholm. Kerala chief minister V.S.Achuthanandan went on a fast yesterday asking for the ban. The centre made its intentions clear at the outset with various ministers voicing opinions that it won't be banned all over the country. The point they made is the 'lack of scientific evidence' to prove that its endosulfan that caused the diseases in various parts of Kerala and Karnataka. And, this is at a time when there are more than 20 studies available worldwide on the ill effects of endosulfan. Even Jairam Ramesh(known for his occasionally tough stand to suppport the enviornment) washed his hands off. And as expected, at the stockholm convention yesterday, India opposed the banning of Endosulfan as a representative of the Asia pacafic region. The draft statement is availabale here. You can see statements like "Significant adverse health and environmental effects of Endosulfan is not established", "The fact that sustainable economic and social development andreadication of poverty are the first and overriding priorities of the developing country.Parties will be taken fully into account, giving due consderation to the need for protectionof human health and the environment.” Yes, our leaders have betrayed us again. India's plan was atleast to get the ban delayed, because the next stockholm convention takes place only in 2013. Our country's conduct in the world stage is beginning to look more like that of US these days, pandering to the whims and fancies of corporations and forgetting the common man.

For every Kalmadi and Raja arrested, we have 100 others like them still sitting firm in the ministerial chairs. Corruption doesnt mean just big money siphoned off in big scams. It also involves cases like these where there's a clear case of vested interests at play. Only this time, the devilishness of that self interest puts the life of thousands in jeopardy. As those kids walk on crutches, as the baby with that big overgrown head cries out in pain, as the adult man comes to terms with his kiddish intelligence, the greedy ilk does a death dance over their head with their own deafness and blindness to the plight of those suffering thousands. The brashness, the deafness and the cold bloodedness point to a rot in this system, which needs some serious cleaning, morally and literally.

What more proof they need to ban this? How many more deaths do we want? How many more should be deformed?


This entry was posted on Tuesday, April 26, 2011 at Tuesday, April 26, 2011 and is filed under , , , . You can follow any responses to this entry through the comments feed .

4 comments

Sarad Pawar's stand has been the most shocking of all... Not that nobody knows that he is EVIL but to close the eyes towards something banned in most of the developed nations... And that PM! Praveen, we're truly in a shit-hole bcoz of all our leaders

5:38 AM

No one will......we have long since become commercially thriving slaves of capitalistic intent. So even if DDT and Endosulfan, among many others, are banned elsewhere, they will thrive here and thrive well!

7:43 AM

read news that India was isolated at Geneva...atleast world hasnt lost its senses

9:14 PM

U know, while writing this comment, the happy new is that Endosulfan is finally banned as expected, shame we hav such govt in india, who supports the pesticide manufacturers than the ppl of the country. Now the thing that i'm worried abt is the conditions that comes along with the ban. Hope that our GRETA GOVT wont take the 5-10 yrs time to actually do that, we have to fight again for that..

12:55 AM

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