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Cites lack of pesticide disposal facility
The joint committee on endosulfan, in its interim report submitted to the Supreme Court, has favoured export of the pesticide. “The industry has no experience in disposing pesticides and the Ministry of Environment and Forest has not provided any definite procedure for the purpose,” the committee noted in its reply to the Court.
The Supreme Court had in its order on August 5 asked the committee, jointly headed by director general of Indian Council of Medical Research and agriculture commissioner, to submit a report on the possibility of exports or disposing of the existing stocks of endosulfan. The stocks had piled after the court, on May 13 banned the manufacture, use, sale and export of the pesticide.
The Endosulfan Manufacturers and Formulators Association of India, through their counsels Harish Salve and Abhishek Manu Singhvi, had requested the bench to allow exports of all stocks for which orders had been received and for which orders had not been received. The industry body also contended that all over the world pesticides are phased out by making an advance announcement of cut off dates of imports or manufacture in order to be able to completely exhaust the raw materials.
The Supreme Court had asked pointed questions on the quantity of endosulfan available in the country, countries to which exports can be made and also the possibility of disposing off the pesticides.
The committee in its report noted that at present India has export orders for 1,734 MT of technical grade endosulfan and 292.5 KL of formulation. The total amount of technical grade endosulfan available is 1,090.596 MT while the available formulation is 2,698.56 KL. In addition, raw material in the form of hexachlorocyclopentadiene (HCCP) equivalent to 4,071.21 MT of technical grade endosulfan is also lying with the manufacturers.
The industry, in a meeting called by the agriculture commissioner, expressed their inability to dispose of the existing stocks. Mumbai Waste Management Limited, a hazardous waste management company, approached by one of the endosulfan manufacturers for disposing of the available stock of endosulfan asked for a steep price of Rs 3,400 a kg for endosulfan and Rs 3,900 a kg for HCCP. Thus, disposing the pesticide, which costs about Rs 235 per kg, will cost Rs 2,000 crore.
The high price of disposal is because of lack of facilities. According to the interim report, the industry only has facility for incineration and that can be used only to treat effluent having small component of endosulfan.
The Supreme Court will decide on September 26 whether the pesticide can be exported or not.
Though the industry has been maintaining that endosulfan is not the cause for the health problems in Kasaragod, manufacturers in an earlier counter affidavit, while pleading to allow exports had stated that, stocking the pesticide and not disposing it safely can pose environmental hazard.
The fact that there are no facilities to dispose pesticides also raises the questions of how policy makers are making laws. The Pesticides Management Bill 2008, which will replaces the 1968 Insecticides Act, has a provision for the disposal of pesticides within three months of their being declared spurious and outdated.
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